Sunday, September 14

Kung POW chicken!

Ok it's actually Kung Pao chicken, but Pow is more fun, especially if you do a fist pump at the same time. Whatever way you spell it, this is a delicious, easy dinner.
I don't normally cook a lot of stir fry's, I seem to have trouble getting everything cooked at the same time so if the protein is cooked the vegetables are either heading towards mushy or still rock hard. I also don't own a wok (actually my sister gave me one years ago, it was big enough to bath a small elephant, apparently she thought I was opening a Chinese restaurant and needed to cook for hundreds ...needless to say its in the garage somewhere...)

It does not matter with this recipe, the chicken is cooked separately, and is easily done in a standard fry pan. It is based on a recipe from Nici Wickes on World Kitchen, where she visits the Szechuan province of China. One of the ingredients of the dish is Szechuan peppercorns, confusingly these are not peppercorns at all but the dried berry of the Mountain Ash Tree.

They have a unique fragrant aroma and a distinctive, almost floral flavour. You could use plain peppercorns & still have a delicious dinner, but if you can get your hands on the real thing (I got mine at Farro Fresh , along with some Chinese Rice Wine, or try an Asian supermarket), they do make a difference.

So what are you waiting for?

Kung Pow Chicken
Serves 4 with rice and steamed vegetables

4 large chicken thighs, skinless and boneless


1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
2 tsp soya sauce , I use dark Kikkoman soya
1 tbsp Chinese Rice Wine (or use sherry, or Marsala)
1 tsp oil, I use peanut oil


2.5 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp sugar, I use brown but any sugar will be fine
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, or use rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)

2 tbsp peanut or other oil
1 thumb size piece ginger, peeled and sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
4 dried chillis, or 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (to taste, if you like it fiery go for it)
3 spring onions, sliced
1 tsp Szechuan Peppercorns (or black/pink peppercorns)
3 tbsp roasted peanuts

Firstly, mix together your marinade ingredients, and add to your chicken, which has been chopped into small chunks. Leave to one side while you get everything else ready. It wont look terribly promising but stick with me

Now mix together all your sauce ingredients and also put to one side. Next chop the rest of your ingredients ready for cooking.

A thumb sized piece of ginger..rather depends how big your thumb is.....!

Yes, I do actually chop things up and put them into small bowls before I cook, it isn't just for the photo! It makes me feel much more organised, and I don't discover I haven't got an important ingredient half way through cooking dinner........

Put a med-large frying pan onto to heat with the 2 tbsp of oil. You want it reasonably hot to fry your chicken. Add as much chicken as will fit in one layer to your pan, and cook for about 6-8 minutes until golden and cooked through

Remove from the heat and put the chicken on a plate while you cook the rest of the ingredients. If there isn't any oil left in the pan, add a splash more

Add the ginger and garlic to the pan with the chillis (or flakes) and stir around until you can start to smell the spice, about 1 minute. add the spring onions and peppercorns, and cook for a further minute. Add the chicken back to the pan.

Finally, add the sauce, and stir while it thickens. You will be left with a deeply savoury coating on your chicken and vegetables, rather than lots of gloopy sauce.

That's it! I like to serve this with steamed rice and greens. If you don't have a rice cooker, I highly recommend you get one, makes for a VERY easy life. For today's version (can you tell I make this recipe often...?) I cooked broccoli in a steamer bag in the microwave, to which I added lemon juice, chilli flakes and a tiny dash of sesame oil.

Super easy, and takes just minutes. Enjoy (fist pump optional)

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