Kung Poa Chicken

AKA Koon  Po Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken, also known as Koon Po Chicken, has an interesting history that traces back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) in China. The dish is named after Ding Baozhen, a governor of Sichuan Province during the late Qing Dynasty, who held the title of “Gong Bao” (translated as “Palace Guardian” or “Kung Pao” in English). Ding Baozhen was known for his love of culinary delights, and one of his favourite dishes was a spicy chicken stir-fry with peanuts.

The original version of the dish was created by the governor’s chef, combining locally available ingredients with the bold flavours characteristic of Sichuan cuisine. Over time, Kung Pao Chicken became popular throughout China, with regional variations emerging. The Sichuan version is particularly famous for its use of Sichuan peppercorns, which impart a unique numbing sensation, and dried red chilies that add significant heat and a deep, smoky flavour to the dish.

Kung Pao Chicken was introduced to the Western world in the 20th century, especially during the mid-1900s, as Chinese immigrants brought their culinary traditions to different parts of the world. In Western adaptations, the dish sometimes includes bell peppers and other vegetables, and the level of spiciness is often toned down to suit local tastes. Despite these adaptations, the essence of the dish—a flavourful blend of spicy, sweet, and savoury elements—remains true to its origins, continuing to delight palates globally.

Kung Poa Chicken
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4 servings
  • Serving size: 250 grams
  • Calories: 540
  • Fat: 29 g
  • Saturated fat: 5 g
  • Unsaturated fat: 6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 39 g
  • Sugar: 13 g
  • Sodium: 1043 mg
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 31 g
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Kung Pao Chicken, originating from China's Sichuan province, is celebrated for its bold flavours and varied textures. This classic stir-fry features tender marinated chicken, crunchy peanuts or cashews, and vibrant bell peppers. Its signature heat and unique numbing sensation come from dried red chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. Ideal for a quick dinner or a special treat, this recipe captures the essence of traditional Kung Pao Chicken, offering a perfect balance of spicy and savoury in every bite. Follow this guide to bring a taste of Sichuan to your kitchen.
For the Chicken and Marinade:
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
For the Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (optional, for colour)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons water
For the Stir-Fry:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 10-15 dried red chilies, seeds removed if less heat is desired
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts or cashews
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped (white and green parts separated
Marinate the Chicken:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and corn starch. Mix well and let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Prepare the Sauce:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, dark soy sauce (if using), rice vinegar, sugar, corns starch, and water. Set aside.
  1. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
  2. Once the oil is hot, add the dried red chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir-fry for about 1 minute until the chilies darken and become fragrant, but be careful not to burn them.
  3. Add the marinated chicken to the wok. Stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through and slightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the wok and set aside.
  4. In the same wok, add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the minced garlic, ginger, and the white parts of the scallions. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  5. Add the bell peppers and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until they start to soften.
  6. Return the cooked chicken to the wok and add the peanuts or cashews. Stir well to combine.
  7. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens and everything is well-coated, about 1-2 minutes.
  8. Serve: Garnish with the green parts of the scallions and serve the Kung Pao Chicken hot over steamed rice.
Enjoy your delicious and spicy Kung Pao Chicken!

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