Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Kung Pao Chicken 101

I LOVE Kung Pao Chicken! This is a dish for which you spend all your time in prep, and almost none actually cooking. And because all the ingredients can be delivered by Timber Creek, you won't spend any time shopping, either! (You can get the grocery items from our Wholesale Buying Club: Natural Farms.) Dishes like this are good because you can do the prep in short bursts throughout the day instead of all at once.

You’ll need 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. From TCF, I usually get 1 package of split breasts on the bone and bone them myself – it’s less expensive, and not very difficult, but that’s another post.

If you have a wok, this recipe will go easily. If not, use your largest skillet and consider using two turning utensils instead of one to keep the food moving over the heat. My wok is 35 years old and made of spun steel. It’s developed a little patina over the years, so don’t let that throw you in the pictures.

You can refrigerate the leftover Kung Pao on top of the leftover rice, and it is a great chicken salad eaten cold or room temp…if it lasts that long! The usual caveats stand about using sherry. NEVER use “cooking sherry”. Always use something that is at least drinkable…and “cream sherry” is not for cooking. I use Christian Brothers Dry Sherry. Inexpensive and it does the trick.

The bottled ingredients are also available in almost any grocery store. (...and you can click all the pictures for a larger view...)

Kung Pao Chicken (or Shrimp)

In a bowl, mix:

1 Tb. each, dry sherry and cornstarch
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper (white is preferred, but not necessary)

1 ½ lb. skinned, boned chicken breasts cut into bit-sized pieces (or 1 ½ lb. shelled & deveined medium shrimp)

Mix the ingredients in the bowl. Add the chicken and coat well. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 min.

4 Tb. peanut oil
1 C roasted, salted peanuts, shelled
1 ½ Tb. each: minced garlic and minced ginger
1 – 1 ½ bunches scallions, sliced

Cooking Sauce Recipe:

4 Tb. soy sauce
1 Tb. Thai chili sauce (or other hot sauce)
2 Tb. each: white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar and dry sherry
6 Tb. chicken broth
4 Tb. sugar (optional)
3 Tb. cornstarch

While the chicken is marinating, shell the peanuts. I shell them on a dish towel. Then I gather up the towel and rub the outside well – that loosens the paper covers. I take a small handful over the sink and very lightly blow away any remaining paper, then put them into the measuring cup.

You can prepare the garlic, ginger and scallions just before you start cooking.

When it’s time for dinner:

Start the rice. I often use jasmine rice cooked in chicken stock – 2 C stock to 1 C rice. Bring the stock to a boil, add the rice and stir. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 min.

While the rice is cooking, heat your wok over high heat. When it’s hot, add 3 Tb. of the peanut oil. Add the peanuts and stir constantly. When they are just beginning to brown, start removing them from the pan to paper towels to drain. If any burn, throw them out. This step flavors the oil.

Remove the chicken from the fridge and add 1 Tb. of peanut oil – mix well. Add the ginger and garlic to the wok, stir twice, then add the chicken and stir constantly until it is no longer pink. Add ¾ of the scallions, allow them to cook about 2 min, and then pour in the cooking sauce. The dish will come together immediately. Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the peanuts. Spoon some rice into a bowl. Spoon the Kung Pao Chicken on top. Sprinkle with scallions. Dinner is served.


Anonymous said...

I made this for dinner last night! Yummy.... I will try it with shrimp next week.

Thanks for the great recipe Rita :)

Anonymous said...

If one has leftover Kung Pao and refrigerates it, how long can it be safely refrigerated before it needs to be disposed?

Rita from Timber Creek Farms Organics said...

Assuming it has been covered tightly and put in a very cold spot in the refrigerator, it should be good for about 3 days.