Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao chicken is a dish everyone has heard of thanks to its popularity in America and it's related inlfuence on television. (George Constanza ends up breaking the heart of a dying boy as the result of Kung Pao Chicken).

Well the first time i'd actually had it was at Choi's restaurant in Hawthorn East. If you haven't been there, it's worth a look. From an unopposing little door on a fairly quiet stretch of road, you enter an almost obscenely decorated dining room complete that looks like it came from Las Vegas. Having said that it seems to work, the service is impeccable, and the dishes are delicious.

Anyway! I'm not saying this dish is authentic, but it's not the terrible rubbish you get at franchise Chinese restaurants or noodle boxes. It's sticky-sweet, moist and tender, before the tingle of the sichuan peppers tap your shoulder.


  • 500gm chicken thigh fillets
  • 6 scallions sliced into 2 inch batons plus extra for garnish
  • 2/3 cup cashew nuts, roasted
  • 15 chillis
  • 1 tbsp sichuan peppercorns, whole
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp crushed ginger


  • 1 tbsp light soy
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 4 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark soy
  • 1 tbsp kecap manis
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp water



Cut the chicken into bite sized chunks.
Mix through with all marinade ingredients.
Set aside whilst you prepare the remainder of the meal.


Mix all of the ingredients together, whisking to ensure no lumps of corn starch remain

The Dish

Heat 2 tbsp of peanut oil in a wok over high heat.
Add the chillis and peppers and stir for until chillis begin to blacken
Add the chicken and stir fry for 3 minutes.
Add the garlic, scallions and ginger and stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
Add the sauce and stir fry until thickened and a caramel smell starts to emerge.
You might think the sauce is beginning to burn, which, well it is! But this will give a lovely smokey depth to the dish.
Add the cashews at last minute and stir through.
Serve with rice or as part of a banquet.

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