Barefeet In The Kitchen: Kung

Easy authentic Chinese Recipes

Easy-Kung-Pao-Chicken-RecipeIt’s no secret that most American Chinese food restaurants serve dishes that have been adapted to please the Westernized American palate. In fact, if you go to China, authentic dishes vary from region to region. Here in Seattle, these dishes have a large degree of different versions depending on the cook. If you go to a fast-food type teriyaki restaurant, typically owned and run by Koreans, their version of Japanese and Chinese (Yes, both are on the menu as well as popular Korean dishes) food reflect a Korean point of view in their culinary creations. This was particularly true with a local teriyaki restaurant in our former neighborhood owned by a little old Korean lady named Joy.

Joy’s version of the popular Chinese dish, Kung Pao Chicken, was heavy on the heat and had a noticeably sweet garlic sauce flavor to it. I often ordered her version because I love how it tasted as the burn only challenged me to eat another bite, then another. So good.

Sichuan-peppercornsBut ordering this dish elsewhere was not the same in any way. Aside from the familiar roasted peanuts, most Chinese restaurant versions always included the aromatic mouth numbing Sichuan peppers. This noticeable flavor layer along with the dried chili peppers always had distinctive authentic taste that I found irresistible.

Like many of these dishes, re-creating them at home isn’t particularly difficult if you have the right ingredients on hand. Today I’m posting my version of this recipe which I really enjoy. Since making it at home, I never order it at restaurants anymore. I have a hard time paying $12 for a dish I know will cost me about $3 to make, and I like my version better.

If you like Kung Pao Chicken, give this recipe a try. Feel free to adapt it to your own liking until you tweak it just right to persuade you never to order it off a menu again too. I prefer to use dry-roasted peanuts but feel free to use cashews. I also prefer boneless chicken thighs instead of the all mighty breast. I find the thigh to be more flavorful and tender. If you like more heat, add more chili peppers. If you want to make this a complete meal, stir fry in bok choy, broccoli, or asparagus. I enjoy this dish with brown rice, but I know steamed white rice is a crowd favorite. Just make it your own and your taste buds will thank you. Enjoy!

Easy Kung Pao Recipe

Author: Savory Sweet Life / Alice Currah

Recipe type: Chicken

Cuisine: Chinese

Prep time:

Cook time:

Total time:

Serves: 2-4

An easy authentic version of the popular Chinese food restaurant dish, Kung Pao Chicken.


  • chicken thights
  • Marinade *See recipe below.
  • vegetable oil
  • Chinese dried red chilies, split length wise and seeds removed
  • Sichuan peppercorns
  • garlic cloves
  • fresh ginger
  • Sauce *See recipe below.
  • scallions
  • unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
  • ___________________________________________
  • soy sauce
  • Chinese rice wine
  • cornstarch
  • Sichuan pepper corns
  • Chinese black vinegar
  • chicken stock/broth
  • sugar
  • sesame oil

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