Monday, October 11, 2010

Kung Wow Chicken – Because Who Doesn't Love Fake Chinese Food?

Well, I'm back in lovely San Francisco after our whirlwind trip to New York City, and even though I have a serious case of jetlag, I wanted to post this highly simplified and quite Americanized version of Kung Pao chicken. Of course, I only mention the jetlag to explain any increase in the frequency of typos (I know you'll have my back as usual).

If I ranked my top email requests, "an easy chicken stir-fry" is certainly in the top five. Of course, as I mention in the video, I don't even own a wok, so this isn't technically a "stir-fry," but it's close enough for the internet, so save your cards and letters.

This fairly simple dish is loosely based on the spicy, Chinese take-out classic, Kung Pao chicken. The origins of the name, "Kung Pao" are difficult to trace, especially when you are too tired and lazy to do any research, but I assume the recipe's history is fascinating.

I've pretty much stripped this down to the bare essentials, and
as I mention in the video, it's a recipe that you'll really want to play around with. All the ingredients you see listed below are literally, "to taste."

Speaking of ingredient amounts, the quantities below are what I think the average viewer would find most enjoyable, so don't be alarmed if what you actually see me tossing in is a little more or less. I don't generally measure when cooking something like this, and I think the more often you make it, you'll find yourself becoming just as carefree.

If you like your Kung Pao-esque chicken dishes to be extra saucy, thick, and sticky (more like the traditional Chinese-American take-out style), you can double the sauce ingredients, and almost triple the cornstarch/water mixture. It's really up to you – I just prefer a little lighter version. Enjoy!




Ingredients for 4 Servings Kung Wow (Kung Pao) Chicken
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts. cut into 1-inch cubes
For the marinade:
1 tablespoon white wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
white parts from 3-4 green onions, chopped
For the sauce mixture:
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Asian chili paste (sambal), or more to taste
2 teaspoons ketchup
4 cloves minced garlic
Other ingredients:
2 tablespoons peanut vegetable oil for frying
2 cups cubed zucchini
1 cup cubed red bell pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoon water
1/4 cup green onion tops, chopped
handful roasted, salted peanut halves
4 cups cooked white rice

74 comments:

Tim said...

I will rock my wok on that...looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

Please, remove the zucchini. Zucchini is great but it is really that there is no zucchini in this Chinese dish.
Okay, there IS Zucchini as it is a fake Chinese food.

Anonymous said...

and.... as always, thanks to your instructions and the delicious suggestion, we have our dinner menu tonight!

Kevin said...

You DON'T have a wok? What are you? Some kinda phony food-blogging chef? ;P

tucker's mama said...

i don't own a wok either... i did in the '80s but found that it just took up valuable space so sold it in a garage sale. why a wok when a skillet (cast iron) works beautifully!! can't wait to try this yummy recipe when i finally get home to NoCal from OR... my husband got his buck! mmm,mmm,mmm, venison!!:)

Steve said...

Chef:

Please tell me I imagined that you cut raw chicken on a wooden cutting board. Or at least tell me you only use that board for chicken. Otherwise, it's "cross contamination city." Somewhere, Alton Brown is screaming.

And no wok? C'mon, you live in San Francisco, don't you? I thought it wok possession was mandatory there.

Chef John said...

Steve,

A properly washed (with a diluted bleach solution) wooden cutting board is just as safe (or more so, according to many) as a plastic cutting board. Studies have shown this time and time again, and don't take my word for it... this is also Alton Brown's opinion.

As far as cross contamination, either a cutting board is clean or it's not. If it's sterile it doesn't matter what you cut on it. btw, if this wasn't the case, I would sure be sick a lot.

Asian Malaysian said...

Ketchup is so an authentic ingredient in chinese cooking. Weve been using it since we build the railroad. We even invented the original stuff. Says so on Wiki.

Chef John said...

true! just meant it's not that typical in Kung Pao ;-)

Scott - Boston said...

"...annoy my Chinese friends..."? Oh Chef, I think you meant Asian friends. Silly you.

(Now, let's see, where's the damn Sarcasm button on this keyboard...)

Scott - Boston

Andrea said...

Hi chef! Thanks for another wonderful recipe. Can you enlighten me on the difference of using cornstarch to thicken the sauce versus flour? When do you use flour and when would it be better to use cornstarch?

Chef John said...

that's a very long involved answer, but basically flour has to be mixed with fat, and cooked to lose the raw taste, corn starch doesn't, which is why it's added at the end in recipes like this.

Rita said...

i'm with you when it comes to "no specific amount" in cooking - it's all about personal taste. baking, on the other hand, needs to be measured.

love your non-authentic kung pao chicken or, rather, kung-wow chicken. i'll give that a shot tonite, and i will rock my wok! by the way, what do you mean you don't have a wok? HERESY!

rosemary said...

You are good, man! Keep up the good work! Am still waiting for Val's chicken kiev. You promised.

Cheri Witmer said...

I think I will try this tonight, but with turkey...never had it that way but I will give it a shot!

Anonymous said...

Wow, tough crowd. I think you are that much cooler just cause you DON'T have a wok and you still come up with more appealling stir fry recipes than I've ever found in an ASIAN cookbook. ;-) I'm not interested in cooking something authentic. I am interested in cooking something tasty that my family will eat. This one looks like another hit!

Scott - Boston said...

Yeah Chef, with comments like, "I don't even own a wok," you're going to find that getting one is muuuuch easier than getting a cooking show on tv.
I imagine your place'll soon be lousy with them.

Scott - Boston

Steve said...

Chef:

I use a wooden cutting board for all of my "I'd eat this stuff raw" chopping (in other words, mostly veggies) but dedicated plastic boards for all my meat and poultry, which seems to be Alton Brown's modus operandi as well, at least on television.

While I don't doubt you personally, I find it a bit hard to believe that short of chucking the thing into an autoclave, you can sterilize a wooden cutting board. Sanitize, maybe, clean, definitely, but sterilize. . . uh uh.

Chef John said...

Yeah, meant sanitize not sterilize. Bottom line is wooden cutting boards are perfectly safe to use for meat, and have been for thousands of years.

pedestal dining table said...

This is one interesting dish. I would love to try some. At least, I can make an Asian dish.

KrisD said...

I use wood for everything, I practice good order when I chop/prep my mise. Chop anything that can/will be eaten raw first, then the vegetables that need to be cooked, and the protein of choice last. Then, I wash that meaty board, my meaty knife and my meaty hands before touching my impeccable clean food that has been put in impeccable clean prep dishes

We never have problems with cross contamination. My knives are happier on a wooden board, and no one is lulled into a false sense of food safety.

tucker's mama said...

i don't care what 'they' all say...tough crowd; in my opinion you're a rock star chef john!! thank you for all your hard work, effort, craftmanship, tantalizing dishes and jockularity :)... you make me LOL! luv ya! keep on cook'n on!

Matt said...

Thanks for the recipe Chef John. Tried it last night and it was a hit! Maybe the first thing I've made that tasted good... and looked good. Wife was very impressed with the wedge shaped vegetables. FYI: The Jalapeno made it suuuupper hot. WOW! Going to option out of that next time.

Chef John said...

great! but maybe just take the seeds out. you want that flavor! :-)

Steve said...

Chef:

I just checked what my copy of The Professional Chef's Knife Kit[*] says about cutting surfaces and it approves of wooden cutting surfaces for all purposes, given adequate sanitation, though the main text book (The Professional Chef) does obliquely recommend using different boards for different purposes.

I stand corrected.

Now I'll go sit corrected.

In fact, maybe I'll go lie down corrected.

_______________
[*] I'm not a professional chef, but I guess you figured that out already.

Yubi Shines said...

Looking good :D Obligatory comment from a Chinese reader -- the horrifying gluey "sauce" you sometimes get with Chinese takeout? It isn't authentic. It's negatively authentic. So don't go too crazy on the corn starch.

Anonymous said...

Chef John,
Why don't you use sweet Ketjap (sweet Indonesian soy sauce) instead of brown sugar.
That also marinates so well...:-)

Dorothea

Chef John said...

love it, but wanted to keep the ingredients Supermarket available.

Anonymous said...

Chef John,
Don't you love when people start posting negative lines w/o realizing how long it takes to type/video things for others to enjoy =-/
As for this recipe...I didn't have Jalapeno peppers avail, used pepper flakes in the oil prior to frying the chicken, wow...yummy!

Anonymous said...

thanks chef.this is another recipe i would love to try.i have been making stir-fry but not the way you did it.i am just wondering if you have a printable version of all your recipes here?that would surely help...thanks.

Kasia said...

Hi Chef John,
Can't wait to try this recipe. When you say you didn't have Chinese wine, do you mean Shaoxing wine?
Thanks!

Chef John said...

yes, i believe that's what i've used before.

Jill Drapcho said...

This smelled & tasted like an authentic Chinese restaurant, which is where it's at for me! Bought the sambal chili paste & a fresh bottle of sesame oil, which made the difference I think. Was really hot, though (but so tasty!!), will leave the jalapeno seeds out to start with next time & add back in as needed after I taste it. Kowabunga!!

Anonymous said...

I call for a how-to video on flipping/stirring ingredients in the pan without using a spatula. You know, like the "Crack an egg with one hand demo?" Just so I can impress myself....

Loewi said...

Chef John,

Can you use canola oil instead of peanut? Of course, getting it real hot before browning...

Chef John said...

yes!

xiaobao12 said...

Chef John, your blog is awesome, btw. This recipe worked out great and is most definitely a keeper!

Myriam said...

Hi Chef John,
Just wanted to let you know how wonderful this recipe is. I haven't had stir fry in ages and this one hit the spot. I have migraine reactions from stir fry sauce so I stayed away but I've tried this and I have no problem with it. I just had to replace a few ingredients according to what I had. I used pork instead of chicken cuz it was way cheaper, but it still came out yummy. Thanks so much!

Myriam said...

Thanks Chef John for posting a stir-fry recipe without those msg stir-fry sauces that give me migraines. I haven't had stir fry in so long and this was good!
I replaced a couple things in the recipe. Pork instead of chicken because it was cheaper, less sugar content and spicy Harissa paste instead of the other chili paste. It turned out wonderful. Thanks!

w3bd3v said...

I agree that you did not need the sambal chilli sauce if you put the whole jalapeno in there. I thought it was a nice heat for what I like, but my girlfriend and guest thought it was a bit too spicy for them. Maybe next time a word of caution Chef John? Some of us like to experiment with our guests. ;)

Thanks again though! Oh and I did what one commenter suggested, pulling the chicken out, and then adding it back in at the end. I really dislike over-cooked chicken and this worked well for me.

Chef John said...

You mean warn you that one of the spiciest dishes in a Chinese recipe is spicy? ;-) All my recipes are "to taste." I can't know how spicy people like things, which I why I said this is average spiciness (for kung pow). Believe me I could find plenty of people that would want more hot sauce. Glad you tried it though and next time you will simply adjust. Such is cooking :-)

Anonymous said...

Looks yummy & easy...You could have named it Bow-Chick-A-Bow-Wow chicken =P

Dave said...

Very tasty! Thanks!

B TOWNNNN said...

Any possibility of a mongolian beef recipe sometime?

Thanks

(I hear it was invented in sf)

philogaia said...

I do have a nice carbon steel wok that I thought was a piece of junk until two things happened. First, I saw the Good Eats squid show where wok technique was discussed, and second, ahem, I switched from electric to a gas cooktop. That gave the right kind of heat to season the wok properly, eliminating sticky and rusty spots.

The thing about a wok over a skillet is that it is not a heavy bottom tool. it is thin and responsive. My stir-fry has improved exponentially since I figured out how to use the wok. I'm not anti-skillet for stir-fry, though, and do understand that decisions have to be made about what to have in the kitchen.

I do have a question about using non-stick for stir-fry, though. I understand that it will ruin non-stick and release toxins to use high heat. But I see chefs filming recipes where they use non-stick for high heat all the time. What am I missing?

Chef John said...

I believe some types of nonstick should be preheated dry on high heat, but don't remember which ones. Better google! :-)

college cook said...

Chef, when you say white wine, can it be any white wine? which one should i get?

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Just made it tonight, and will adding to my extensive list of meals that I can cook (spaghetti..).
My roommate came home and the first thing he said was, "that smells great!". We both loved it. Thanks for the great videos!

Anonymous said...

Chef, is the measurement for brown sugar correct? It looked like more than 2 tablespoons on the video. It almost looked like a cup. I'm sorry I am a super beginner in the kitchen. Thank you.

Luna said...

I made this dish for father's day tonight. It was a success! Now I know the magical powers of cornstarch. Thanks again, Chef!

LimachePUA said...

Wait this doesn't show you what the chicken broth is and how to make it
=(. How do you buy that/make it? Is it the same thing as chicken powder?

Chef John said...

I use ready made in carton. Or use our stock vid! Or powder in a pinch.

Tech Titan said...

Thanks!

Tech Titan said...

Thanks! Also when I made this, my mom complained that the meat was too dry and that it wasn't like the chinese chicken that's very smooth. My dad (who is the cook in the house) says it's because Chinese recipes marinate chicken with oil and cornstarch to get the smoother consistency. Is this true? Is this chicken supposed to be dryer or did I make a mistake (perhaps I cut the meat too small?) I couldn't even cook the dish for the whole time that you recommended; I only cooked for 4 minutes and it was already done.

Anonymous said...

oh my god wood board plastic board? I'm sure their are better things to talk about. If he wants to use a wood board let him, if you feel safer with a plastic board go ahead whatever suits your fancy. My grandma has been using a wood cutting board for decades no-one and i mean no-one ever got sick and she had 12 kids and she's 80. Too much sterilization and you WILL get sick plus the food is properly cooked so unless you own a restaurant or chef john has a gun to your head telling you you must use a wood board, chill out.

Amy-florida

Anonymous said...

awsome. i just finished it and is delicious. thanks for the recipe

Chef Ron said...

Chef John you make everything very easy in your vidio's. You substitute things and say that's because that's what I have and that makes it very user friendly. Like using the pan instead of using the wok or the white wine because you didn't have any rice wine. Great job. Keep it up. DON'T listen th people like that Kevin guy that said you must be a phoney food blogging chef. (october 11th) The dish was tasty and he probably doesn't have a life and just complains all the time anyway.. keep up the good work my friend...:)

Mona said...

Another winning recipe by Chef John. Made it last night for dinner and to say that it was good would be an understatement. Again, this has the perfect amount of everything, not too salty, not too spicy, perfect amount of veggies, cooked the chicken as per his instructions, easy and delicious. A million thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

you don't have black ppr in your sauce ingredients list :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chef.. It looks delicious, I am planning a party and would like to serve this.. Have you ever pre cooked this dish before? I would like to prepare and reheat? is that possible at least part of it? will be for mere 10 ppl? Thanks: JG

Rebecca said...

Hi Chef,

First time I write a comment in your site. I just wanted to thank you for this. I made it for my family tonight and it was a big success. I have made a million of your recipes already, thank you!

Anonymous said...

This is a great dish. I have made this a few times. Last time used shrimp. Thanks again. Joe V.

Sandy said...

This stir-fry is a winner. I have some spicy-averse family members, so I left out the chili paste and just stirred some Sriracha sauce into my portion.

Thanks for sharing, and thanks for having such a great website. I just discovered your blog last week, and I've already made two of your recipes. I can tell from the enthusiasm in your voice that you genuinely love to cook, and that makes your videos so much fun to watch!

Anonymous said...

SO DELICIOUS. I had no sambal, but I don't like things too spicy anyway so I used Korean BBQ sauce and it was delicious!!

cookinmom said...

I wanna try this with fresh ginger...yummm!!!

cookinmom said...

Chef,
Any chance of you knowing a recipe for ginger orange carrot dressing they serve at Japanese rest.? I'm having such a hard time finding one that I like.

Jake Evans said...

So here's a question from a complete cooking newb... when you say white wine, are you referring to the white wine vinegar stuff, or actual white wine??

Chef John said...

wine! :-)

Anonymous said...

You make berry goood chop chop!!! :0) It was berry, berry goooood!! I add ginger and make fly lice. Sank you berry much!!

Craaackle said...

My partner and I make this at least once a week. It's a no brainer way to get in veggies and we can substitute a lot of things to get the same taste. It comes together so fast and the mise en place allows us to catch up on our day and spend time together.

Thank you Chef John, we love you :)

Joy S said...

I definitely recommend subbing balsamic vinegar of Modena for a more intense flavor. :) It achieves a similar effect to Chinese black vinegar, but with a more "Western" flavor!

Debbie debbiem said...

My 12 year old son found this recipe and was really excited about his find. I told him the day before to find recipes he would like me to make. Since he is so picky and hard to cook for. I made this recipe and it was so amazing! I make this dish every other week and sometime every week. Thank you we appreciate your food.

cookinmom said...

This is sooo good...have been looking for the longest time. I used many veggies that I had and added fresh picked ginger from the garden. Soo Soo berry good chef. In the rotate file and has been made many times already!!

Juicing One Day At A Time said...

With all Chef John's videos, they are to teach. If you want to change some of the ingredients he wants you to. I appreciate what he has done here. For the people that were never taught, or didn't listen to your Mothers; if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all. Personal rude comments are not needed or wanted here. I'm sure Mothers would be proud......Thanks for all you do Chef John.