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Try this delicious Kung Pao Chicken - better than take away

Try this delicious Kung Pao Chicken - better than take away

This dish is known by many names: Chilli Chicken Stir Fry, Szechuan Chicken or Hot and Spicy Chicken. 

This version though is the authentic one, with a little bit of preparation of the chicken elevating this dish above a standard quick stir fry. You can dial up or down the chilli depending on how you spicy you like it. It’s more about the balance of flavours rather than the impact of chilli.

There are quite a few ingredients here that you may not have. But if you go to the trouble of collecting these items you will be able to make various amazing stir fries for a couple of months!

Total preparation and cooking time: 30 mins (plus marinating)

Serves: 4-6


  • 600gm chicken thighs diced into 2-3cm pieces
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/3 cup peanut oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 3 spring onions finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup pan fried peanuts or roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chilli-bean paste (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 6-12 dry chillies, seeded (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 1 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into thin slices (about 1/2 cup total)

Note: Chilli-bean paste is a fermented bean sauce available from Asian grocers. If unavailable you can use a generic Asian chili-garlic sauce.


  1. Combine chicken, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine, and 1 teaspoon corn starch in medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Allow to marinate in fridge for at least 20 minutes, and up to two hours.
  2. Crush half of the Sichuan peppercorns and combine with half the spring onions. Combine rest of the spring onions, garlic, and ginger in small bowl. Combine remaining soy sauce, remaining Shaoxing wine, remaining corn starch, vinegar, chilli-bean paste, and sugar in small bowl and mix until corn starch is fully dissolved.
  3. Heat peanut oil in wok or large saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add remaining Sichuan peppercorns and dried chillies and cook until fragrant, about fifteen seconds. Pick out chillies and reserve. Discard as many peppercorns as you can.
  4. Return wok/saucepan to high heat until almost smoking (same oil). Add marinated chicken and spread in an even layer. Cook without moving for 1 minute, then cook, stirring and tossing constantly until barely cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a medium bowl. Cook leeks until charred in spots but still slightly crisp, about 1 minute. Add peanuts, dried chillies, chicken and push to side to make space in the centre. Add garlic/ginger mixture and cook, stirring mixture constantly until aromatic, about 15 seconds. Toss entire contents together and add prepared sauce. Cook, stirring and tossing constantly until chicken is coated in glossy layer of sauce. Stir in spring onions and crushed Sichuan pepper. Transfer to serving plate and serve with white rice.

Bonus tip: you can make Kung Pao (almost) anything: Kung Pao Prawn, Kung Pao Snow Peas, Kung Pao Tofu…just substitute the chicken in the above recipe.


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