Pao, Right in the Kisser

My sister in law, Raluca, gave me a beautiful red Le Creuset Wok the last time she and her husband were here for a visit. I was giddy with happiness at this gift, as I had been wanting it for a long time. Then, sadly, I made one mediocre stirfry after the next. It took several uses to both get it perfectly seasoned and figure out the perfect temperature and recipe. I have now officially mastered my wok!

This Kung Pao recipe is adapted from about 4 other recipes I have come across online. The last couple times I’ve made it, its gotten better and better, resulting in a glossy dark sauce with a nice kick of heat. I searched high and low for the dried red chili peppers that you see in many Chinese dishes and finally found them at, of course, Whole Foods. You can always use crushed red pepper, but I just like the heat and the look of the red chili peppers.
chicken_stirfry.jpg Kung Pao Recipe

1 tbsp rice wine
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/4 c chicken stock

2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
4 dried red chilis, with stems and seeds removed
1/2 inch piece of ginger, smashed
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 c roasted or fried peanuts
2 tbsp chicken stock and 1 tsp corn starch combined in small bowl (slurry)

1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a plastic ziploc bag along with the sliced chicken breast. Let marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.

2. Combine all sauce ingredients in another small bowl and set aside.

3. Heat the peanut oil and sesame oil in a wok over high heat, until just smoking. Add the chilis, ginger and garlic and stirfry for about1 minute. Add half of the marinated chicken and quickly stirfry until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the wok and place on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the chicken and remove from the wok. Discard the smashed garlic and ginger. Add the sliced red pepper and stirfry for about 2 minutes until almost tender.

4. Add the chicken back to the wok, along with the sauce ingredients and the peanuts. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock and corn starch slurry and allow to simmer for at least 1 minute, stirring constantly. Serve over steamed rice.

Makes 4 Servings

Note: It is important to have all ingredients prepared and handy before you begin cooking, as this cooks very quickly.