Easy Oriental part 10 – Kung Po Chicken done Conor’s way.

Kung Po Chicken (18 of 18)I was tempted to dedicate this post to Frank Sinatra, he of the “I did it my way”. But given everything I have heard and read about the man, I think we should say that he was a good singer and leave it (and all reference to the little man with the oversized ego) right here.

Over the years and decades, I have eaten Kung Po Chicken dozens of times. It is (as is “My Way”) a standard. There should be only one true recipe for Kung Po. But, you have guessed it, there are as many ways of cooking it as there are Chins in the Peking phone book. 

So without further ado, here’s my take on Kung Po Chicken. Peanut purists will be tut-tutting at my use of cashews. Szechuan supporters will want to know why I left the peppercorns off the menu. Black vinegar enthusiasts will be in dark mood.

The ingredients for delicious Kung Po Chicken. Delicious despite my lack of ingredient purity.

The ingredients for delicious Kung Po Chicken. Delicious despite my lack of ingredient purity.

Here’s the (my) ingredients to serve 5 people

  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 250 grammes of raw cashews, unsalted
  • 6 to 8 small dried (hot) chilis.
  • 3 centimeters of ginger
  • 2 generous garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons of rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon and two teaspoons of corn flour
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut oil

We need to divide the ingredients into marinade, sauce and other stuff. Make the marinade in a big bowl. This takes all the rice wine, half a tablespoon of the soy sauce and a tablespoon of cornflour. The sauce is in two parts – the flavour and the thickener. The flavour is made with the remaining tablespoon and a half of soy sauce, the sugar and the balsamic vinegar. The thickener is made with half a tablespoon of corn flour and three tablespoons of water. Make them up.

I have given exact measurements. I tend to ignore them and do what seems right.

I have given exact measurements. I tend to ignore them and do what seems right.

Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces. I like to do it in big bites.

Plenty for 5. Not enough for 6. More than enough for 4.

Plenty for 5. Not enough for 6. More than enough for 4.

Mix the marinade ingredients and add the chicken. Stir it and leave it in there while you do the rest of the preparation.

Give it an occasional stir to keep the cornflour from glooping at the bottom of the bowl.

Give it an occasional stir to keep the cornflour from glooping at the bottom of the bowl.

Chop the spring onions, the garlic and the ginger.

I think this is my first gratuitous spring onion chopping shot.

I think this is my first gratuitous spring onion chopping shot.

Break the tops off the chilis and squeeze out the seeds, unless you want to blow the top of your head through the ceiling. There are a lot of seeds.

Lots of fiery chili seeds removed. I enjoy heat but, I prefer some heat and lots of flavour.

Lots of fiery chili seeds removed. I enjoy heat but, I prefer some heat and lots of flavour.

Chop the chilis into big-ish pieces.

The aromatics, nuts, sauce and spring onions prepared and ready to add to the wok.

The aromatics, nuts, sauce and spring onions prepared and ready to add to the wok.

Heat the wok. Add the cashew nuts and dry fry them until they start to release a lovely nutty aroma.

Doing it my way - Nobody else dry fries their nuts. (No jokes please).

Doing it my way – Nobody else dry fries their nuts. (No jokes please).

Remove and reserve. Add a tablespoon of peanut oil to the wok. Get it very hot.

Doing it my way. A peanut oil pouring shot.

Doing it my way. A peanut oil pouring shot.

Then add the chicken, in batches, and stir fry it until it’s browned on all sides. Don’t over cook it.  It will finish off in the sauce.

The chicken starts to look pretty tasty at this stage.

The chicken starts to look pretty tasty at this stage.

Remove the chicken. Add more oil if needed. Then add the chili flakes.

Chili going into the wok. You need to move quickly at this stage.

Chili going into the wok. You need to move quickly at this stage.

Quickly add the nuts, spring onions, garlic, ginger and stir like crazy. When the garlic and ginger aromas start to rise, add the chicken and the flavour part of the sauce.

The aromas from this are fantastic and are very tempting.

The aromas from this are fantastic and are very tempting.

Mix the thickening part of the sauce and add enough to thicken the dish. If you over-do it, don’t panic, just compensate by adding some water. Serve on top of some nice, sticky rice. Sprinkle with some of the spring onions.

This was an experiment in flash photography. It didn't stay there very long. I hope you like it.

This was an experiment in flash photography. It didn’t stay there very long. I hope you like it.

Purists may be aghast. My lot just scoffed everything and begged me to cook it again. Kung Po Chicken – Yes, I did it my way!

 

 

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Latest comments
  • Lovely, that’s one of my favourites. I’m definitely coming to the opening of your first (official) restaurant.

    • I suspect that if I did that, it would be the end of all the fun for me.

      • I know what you mean. I’ll just have to turn up on your doorstep looking pathetic.

        • The welcome mat is without.

          • Thank you. Just working on the hangdog look.

  • I love the way you made this dish! Had me laughing at your nuts! Be well – Jane

  • This looks delicious! I must try!

    • Please do. It’s easy and delicious.

      • Slightly off topic! Conor i saw on another blog you use Shaoxing wine and find it easily in Dublin, I can find it in Tesco but it’s E5 for a 200ml bottle I just couldn’t bring meself! could you tell me a couple of places? please thanks
        p.s glad to have found your blog I love cooking Indian Chinese etc

        Cheers,John

        • Thanks for visiting John. Two places to recommend. The Asia Market on Drury Street or Caterworld on the Nangor Road, Clondalkin. A fiver strikes me a a bit over the top. Either are well worth a visit as the range of oriental ingredients will always give you ideas.

        • Thanks for the reply Conor, yeah for 200ml it seemed a bit ott now not that I’m mean I just thought I’d get more bang for my buck i hate being ripped off, I’ll give the Nangor Rd one a go as i live in Tallaght, I’ll be trying some of your recipes for sure! I like the look of the few i saw.
          Cheers Conor

          • Happy to help. Just in case, Caterworld is cash only. You are a man after my own heart. I can’t abide overpaying either. The older I get the tighter I am.

  • Conor, this looks so delicious. You know how I love your Asian series. I have so many ingredients now. Unfortunately someone stole my wok, but I intend to make this dish for sure. Your photos really help me see how easy it actually is. I can’t wait to try it.

    • That has to be the funniest excuse for not cooking a dish; Someone stole my wok.

      • LOL. It’s not an excuse. I know. That’s more a lament, as any pot will do. My excuse this week is Passover. But next week….:)

      • To be clear…someone actually did steal my wok. We were moving and it’s my fault really for putting all the good stuff in the same box..my wok, paella pan, a bottle of aged scotch, among other goodies like saffron. Grr.

        • They will never cook anything nice in any of them. I hope they choke on the scotch and then get a huge hangover.
          I got my steel wok in an oriental store about 25 years ago. It has served me very well since. Not an expensive purchase and real lasting value. Spoil yourself…

  • Without the sechuan pepper, no reason for tears to subside. I’d gladly bite off more of this than I can chew, so I’ll have my fill. I’ll eat it up, and won’t spit it out.

  • I have never seen a Chinese phonebook… but I have a feeling your recipe is the best. The photos and ingredients are so enticing. Ginger, soy and balsamic… MMMM.

    • I really should explain the chins. It’s from an old (politically incorrect) joke: “Is she fat?” “Fat, she has more chins than a Chinese phone book.”
      I reckon I’m now in trouble with the thought (and humour) police.

  • Love it Conor. I, for some reason thought it was made with cashews, so nothing is lost on me here! I don’t make enough chilli based Chinese dishes – looking a this makes me realise I should.

    • I genuinely encourage you to try this one Phil. It was really delicious, sweet, spicy and nutty.

  • I’m a fan of Frank (his music, not his chicken recipes), but I must say: I’m a big fan of Conor’s way. The wok-fried chili flakes get me very excited. Also, I can’t believe this is the 10th post in this series! You’ve really out done yourself. Will we see 11, or 12? Or maybe even 20?

    • I’ll keep ’em coming as long as I enjoy cooking them Tommy. I think 12 is safe. 20 might be a stretch. Ask me at 18…

  • Another one of my favorites! I am out of peanuts, but you’ve seriously made me crave some. I am always fascinated by the amount of dry chiles in some of the restaurant KP dishes. I think they do it just to intimidate people because the dish is usually not that spicy 😉

    • Too true. Though I enjoy a nice spicy one every now and then.

  • Looking up top, your blog heading is ‘One Man’s Meat’ etc, so of course ‘I did it my way’ 🙂 ! There is no day I do not hum the same tune! That said, I shall love to try the recipe . . . and with a good frying pan with a reasonably high sides, hate to tell everyone the lack of a wok is no excuse for not making a dish meant for one 😀 !!

    • Excellent stuff indeed Eha. This should be fine in a pan, for sure.

  • Great recipe… go on doing it your way. It works for you. Next time I’m doing something Asian at home, I will give it a try. Love the fact that the ingredients are easy to find since where I can’t always find all I need for Asian cooking.

    • I am delighted to hear that. I’d love to see how it turns out.

  • I would prefer cashews myself! Peanuts and peanut butter have their place but cashews are just elegant, if you can call them that.

  • Purists be damned! Your kung po seems plenty authentic to me, Conor, and I bet it tastes wonderful, too. Your comment about ridding the chilies of their seeds unless you “want to blow the top of your head through the ceiling” cracked me up. Years ago, when I finally found some dried red peppers from Calabria, I couldn’t wait to use them and just smashed a few before adding the bits, seeds and all, to the pan. After a mouthful or two of that pasta, I thought I was going to die!

    • I know that awful feeling John. Not pleasant at all.

  • Very nice Frank. Certainly rocking the asian stylee!

  • I love Conor way! your chicken looks really yummy, 1000 times more interesting than the Peking phone book!

    • In truth, I have never seen the Peking phone book. Though, I can’t imagine it’s all that interesting.

  • Looks yum, Conor, will put this on my list for the long weekend.
    Nicki

    • Do Nicki. It really is very tasty and simple to prepare.

  • You way looks better than any other way! I’m so hungry right now and I want this even though it is only 9am. Love your scallion shot! 🙂 Just posted a scallion shot myself….

  • Like that wok it’s certainly seen some action

    • It’s been putting up with my food burning for over 25 years. Great investment!

  • Great recipe! Wil definitely be trying this one – love, love, love your photography!

    • Thanks Keith, I am having a bit of fun with it at present. Sadly, more get binned than processed.

  • Might be better than irish food which is what they serve to prisoners as punishment.

    • Probably cooked by a foreigner, which is why it seems so poor to you Vito. Thanks for stopping by and for your less than kind comment.

  • Love your Sinatra-style chicken! Look-wise as well as flavor-wise! Yum! Irresistible! Yum!

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