Kung Pao chicken was one of my go-to Chinese takeout dishes during my time in the US. That along with General Tso’s chicken and mushu pork.
Whenever my college roommates and I grew tired of eating Domino’s, we’d get some Chinese takeout to fuel our all-night study sessions. It was fast, easy to eat, and MSG-licious. Plus we could eat them straight out of those convenient little Chinese takeout boxes so we didn’t have to wash any dishes afterwards. A big plus for lazy college students.
In memory of those collegiate days, Ren whipped up this killer kung pao chicken with spaghetti dish, as inspired by Chef Martin Yan. A more refined version of the classic, it’s every bit as delectable as I remember it to be. Now if only it came with a side of General Tso’s chicken and mushu pork…
*Recipe adapted from Martin Yan’s Kung Pao Chicken
- 250 grams boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thigh fillets
- 2 1/2 Tbsps peanut oil
- 8 small dried red chilies
- 10 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup green onions/scallions, chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
- 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
- 2 tsps cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
- 250 grams cooked spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 3 Tbsps Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 Tbsps hoisin sauce
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsps sesame oil
- 2 tsps chili garlic sauce
- 2 tsps sugar
- Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces.
- Combine marinade ingredients in bowl then add chicken. Stir to coat and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Combine sauce ingredients in new bowl then set aside.
- Place wok over high heat until hot. Add 2 tablespoons oil, swirling to coat sides. Add chilies and cook while stirring until fragrant, for about 10 seconds.
- Add chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove chicken and chilies from wok.
- Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil, swirling to coat sides. Add garlic and cook while stirring until fragrant, for about 10 seconds.
- Add green onions, bell pepper, broccoli and peanuts, then stir-fry for 1 1/2 minutes.
- Return chicken and chilies to wok and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add sauce and bring to boil.
- Add cornstarch solution and cook while stirring until sauce boils and thickens. Add cooked spaghetti and toss to coat.
DID YOU KNOW?
That Kung Pao chicken is a classic Sichuan dish, originating from the Sichuan Province of central-western China?
Though its exact origins are unknown, legend has it that it was named after Ding Baozhen (1820–1886), a late Qing Dynasty official who served as head of Shandong province and later as governor of Sichuan province. The name “Kung Pao” was derived from his title – “Gōng Bǎo,” meaning “Palatial Guardian.”
Because of its association with Ding Baozhen, the dish was deemed politically incorrect during the Cultural Revolution. It was thus renamed “fast-fried chicken cubes” (hong bao ji ding) or “chicken cubes with seared chiles” (hu la ji ding) until its political rehabilitation in the 1980s.