This easy recipe for kung pao chicken with a sugar-free kung pao stir fry sauce is better than what you will find in most Chinese take out places. It’s also healthier, but the sodium content is on the high side, so not something you should eat every day, but it makes for a nice treat.
Kyoku Knives sponsored this post for creating an honest review video on YouTube. A discount code is available at the bottom of the post, just above the recipe card.
Chicken: For this recipe, the breast is used, but dark meat also works really well. Cut the chicken into 3/4 to one-inch pieces. Chicken breast is moderately high in purines. The skin on has 175 mg uric acid / 100 g. Chicken leg with the skin on has 110 mg uric acid / 100 g.
Rice wine: The rice wine is used in the marinade to remove some of the chicken smell.
Soy sauce: It will be used in the marinade and the sauce. To keep things simple, just plain generic soy sauce was used. If you want your sauce to be a little darker, add some dark soy sauce.
Water: Water is used in the marinade to keep the chicken breast moist. It is also used in the sauce to stretch it out. But in the marinade, you could use some stock instead of water. But since I have gout, chicken stock is not an option.
Cornstarch: It’s used in the marinade and the sauce.
Black vinegar: It’s vinegar, so it brings a bit of sourness. Black vinegar is mild with a very complex flavor. Its flavor is closer to balsamic than white vinegar.
Sesame oil: I think that is a law that stirs fry must have sesame oil. It is a good law. Just remember sesame oil has a very low smoke point. This is why I usually add it at the end.
White pepper: To me, it is less sharp than black pepper. But if you do not have white, then use black pepper.
Green onions: Chopped up with the white part separated from the green part. The white parts go in sooner to cook down more than the green part.
Ginger and garlic: Yes required for a stir fry.
Bell pepper: This is optional, but I like to add some red bell pepper for color and texture.
Peanuts: Traditionally, raw peanuts would be used then they would be lightly deep-fried before going in. I prefer to use unsalted dry roasted peanuts.
Dried chili peppers: Traditionally heaven facing peppers would be used. But they can be hard to find, and chili de Arbol or any other spicy dried pepper will work.
Optional: The traditional version uses Sichuan peppercorns “prickly ash” to give a unique aroma and flavor. It was banned from importation into the US from 1968 to 2005. During that time, most restaurants developed recipes without it. I like to add some to my kung pao but leave it out since it’s not a common ingredient (and my wife does not like it).
How to velvet chicken
Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant, and the beef or chicken texture was silky smooth and juicy? This texture is produced by a chemical reaction with cornstarch or baking soda and sometimes egg white. After marinating then the meat would be quickly deep-fried or quickly cooked in boiling water.
But in the method used in this recipe, we will get a result close to velveting but with a simple marinade and not deep frying.
In our easy velveting marinade to our chicken, we will first add some rice wine. Please give it a good stir to coat the chicken with the wine. Then we will add the soy sauce and give it a good stir to coat. Next, we add some water then stir to coat. Then we add the cornstarch and mix until we can no longer see white specks. The chicken needs to marinate for thirty minutes or so. That will give us plenty of time to make the sauce and cut up the veggies.
Optional ingredients for velveting.
Salt or sugar: When reading recipes or watching videos on Chinese websites, it’s common to see a pinch of salt or sugar added to the marinade. Personally, I do not think they are needed, and with my health issues, I leave them out.
Egg white: If you want to use egg white, use 1/2 of the white part of one large egg in place of the water.
Baking soda: Baking soda will definitely make chicken more silky smooth. But use very sparingly. If you add too much, the meat will taste funny. But if you want to experiment with it, add a pinch when you add the cornstarch.
Sugar-free stir-fry sauce
I experimented with the sauce until I was happy with a simple sauce that did not have sugar. But if you want, you can add a little sugar when you try this.
Prepare the veggies by dicing up red bell pepper, garlic, and ginger. Chop up the green onion and separate the green and white parts. If the dried peppers have stems, remove them. Cut the dried peppers into small pieces but leave them big enough that people can see them and pick them out if they do not want to eat them.
When you’re ready to cook, get all of your ingredients and utensils within arm’s reach of your cooktop. It is also a good idea to have them lined up in the order that they will be used.
To cook the dish, heat a wok until it just starts to smoke. Add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the chicken and gently spread it out. Let sit for thirty seconds or so to develop a crust and release it from the wok.
Flip the chicken over and repeat. If you try and move the chicken too early, it will tear and leave some stuck to the wok.
After you have a little crust on both sides, add the peanuts and Stir Fry for about one minute. Make a well in the center of the wok, and if it’s dry, add a little oil. Then add the garlic, ginger, white part of the green onion, and bell pepper. Cook for about one minute, then add the dried peppers and green onion.
After about one more minute, stir the sauce (the cornstarch will settle to the bottom) and add to the wok. Cook until it has reduced to a glaze and you’re ready to serve.
If you liked this recipe then check out my healthy chicken and broccoli stir fry.
CorrieCooks has a really good Instant Pot Orange Chicken Recipe.
Above is the video that I made for YouTube. In making the video I realized just how out of practice I am in making videos. This was the second time I filmed this. The first time I did not add the peanuts to the dish. How can it be Kung pow without nuts? Then when filming this one I forgot to add the spicy peppers.
This shows that when you want to stir fry have all of your ingredients ready and at your station.
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Chicken and marinade
- 10 oz Chicken breast Dark meat is also a good choice
- 1/2 Tablespoon Rice wine
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Water
- 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon Black vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Soy sauce
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 1 teaspoon Sesame oil
- 1 Pinch White pepper
- 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
- 4 Green onions Chopped, seperate the white part from the green part.
- 2 slices Ginger
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1/4 Cup Red bell pepper
- 1 Cup Peanuts
- 3 Dried chiles 1 to 100 depending upon how spicy you want the dish
- 3 Tablespoons Oil Expeller pressed canola oil
- Cut chciken into 3/4 to 1 inche pices.
- To the chciken add 1/2 Tablespoon rice wine, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tea spoon waterand mix.
- Add 1 teaspoon cornstarch and mix. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- To a container add 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 1 Tablespoon black vinegar, 1/4 cup of water, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 pinch of white pepper and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.
- Give the sauce a good mix and set aside until ready to use.
Prepare the veggies.
- Prepare the veggies by dicing up red bell pepper, garlic, and ginger. Chop up the green onion and separate the green and white parts. If the dried peppers have steams remove them. Cut the dried peppers into small pieces
- Heat a wok until it just starts to smoke. Add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the chicken and gently spread out. Let sit for thirty seconds or so to develop a crust and release from the wok. Flip the chicken over and repeat.
- After you have a little crust on both sides it's time to add the peanuts. Stir Fry for about one minute.
- Make a well in the center of the wok and if it's dry add a little oil. Then add the garlic, ginger, white part of the green onion, and bell pepper. Cook for about one minute
- Add the dried peppers and green onion. After about one more minute stir the sauce (the cornstarch will settle to the bottom) and add to the wok. Cook until it has reduced to a glaze and you're ready to serve.