Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken - Crabby Style!

I love oriental cuisine. I have such a passion for it that I spent several years trying to master stir fry, shallow fat frying, and steaming techniques. The net result was that I got fairly good at this type of cooking. In fact, I am so used to cooking on high heat that I start most of my cooking on high, then drop the heat later to suit the dish I am preparing.

One of my favorite dishes is Kung Pao Chicken. This dish is simple, spicy, and very tasty. Care should be taken when using chili oil or oriental chilis. These are hot, and I recommend that you add some, taste, then add more if you desire more heat. Remember that you can always add an ingredient, but rarely can you take it out with ease.

For this recipe, I usually use chicken thighs. Breasts or other parts work well, too, I just focus on the cost factor of the dish. There are 3 critical success factors for this dish - Maintain 3 TBSP of oil in pan, cook over high heat, and do not overcook the ingredients.  This recipe is written to be as fool proof as possible.  Those that are experienced with stir-fry may want to condense some of the steps.

4 chicken thighs, diced into 3/8" to 1/2" pieces, excess pieces of fat removed
2 packages of celery, cut into 3/8" lengths
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1.5" lengths, then sliced lengthwise into 1/4" thick pieces
1 can sliced water chestnuts, liquid removed
4 to 5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 dashes ground white pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons of ground oriental chili
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon hot chili oil (optional)
2 teaspoons sugar or artificial sweetener
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup water
3 to 5 cloves of garlic, sliced into 1/8" pieces
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 cup wine for deglazing the pan
approx. 1/4 cup of peanut or canola oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup shelled dry roasted peanuts


Chow Sauce: Mix water, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, half of the sesame oil, all but one teaspoon of the cornstarch, a dash of white pepper, the oriental chili and half of the sugar and set aside.

Marinade Chicken: Place half the garlic, all the diced chicken, 1 teaspoon wine, half of the sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch, a dash of white pepper, 1 teaspoon of the cooking oil, and half of the sugar into a bowl, stir well. Let set for at least 10 minutes.

Stir Fry:
  1. Place a 4 quart pan with steep sides on a burner on high heat. 
  2. Place 3 tablespoons cooking oil into the pan. 
  3. Add the chili oil to the pan.
  4. When oil gets hot, put in the carrots. 
  5. Stir Fry until the carrots are crisp-tender and remove, leaving oil in the pan. 
  6. Add more oil if necessary. 
  7. Once it is hot, add the celery and stir fry until it changes color - add the rest of the garlic and cook a minute or two more. 
  8. Remove the celery, retaining the oil in the pan. 
  9. Add oil, if necessary, to bring to 3 Tablespoons in the pan. 
  10. Once it is hot, scatter 1/3 of the chicken around the pan and stir-fry until it has changed color - do not overcook! 
  11. Remove from the pan into the same bowl you put the carrots and celery into. 
  12. Repeat the chicken cooking process until all the chicken is cooked and in the bowl with the other cooked ingredients. 
  13. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the oil. 
  14. Place the pan back on the stove. 
  15. Stir up the chow sauce and pour it in.  It will have a milky brown color.
  16. Keep stirring until the chow sauce becomes more transparent and thickens. 
  17. Add the water chestnuts to the pan and stir.
  18. Add all the cooked ingredients back to the pan. 
  19. Stir for 30 to 45 more seconds then turn off the heat. 
  20. Stir a little more, then remove to your serving bowl.
  21. Serve over white or fried rice and top with peanuts.
  22. Enjoy!

God bless you and yours and have a Great Day!