Kung Pao Chicken

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This has long been a favorite dish of mine, since I first tried it at the Szechuan Imperial in New York City in 1978. Unfortunately, versions at most restaurants have been "Cantonesed", and aren't close to what I first tried; for example, adding vegetables such as green peppers. It is a simple dish, but I haven't yet been satisfied with my attempts to cook it.

This recipe is based on information I got from the owner of Yen Ching in Harvard Square, who had a recipe I really liked. It's close enough for now.

The sauce:

  • 1 tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs cooking sherry (I substitute 2 tbs white vinegar)

Mix together:

  • 1/2 tbs chopped garlic
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound chopped chicken thigh meat

Fry hot peppers in oil until they are blackened. Beware the smoking oil: it is very bad for the lungs and eyes!

  • 2 tbs oil
  • around 20 tienjan Szechuan dried hot peppers

Add the peanuts and fry until they begin to brown (or the skin cracks.)

  • 1/2 cup peanuts

Then remove the peanuts and peppers to a bowl.

Fry the chicken mix in the spicy oil quickly until it is cooked. (I find you need very high heat and no more than one recipe at a time for this to work right, unless you have a commercial wok.)

  • 1 large or 3 small scallions, chopped

Add the sauce, return the peanuts and peppers, add scallions, and cook until the sauce is thickened or absorbed.

Serves two.

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