Crispy, nutty, and full of spice – Kung Pao chicken has hit the big time
With its delicious taste that gets your tastebuds in a tingle, kung pao chicken is the perfect meal for a busy weeknight or a deliciously intimate evening at home. Get ready to learn more about this delectable chicken dish that becomes even more mouthwatering when eaten with brown rice and crispy spring onions.
The history of its Eastern roots
Originally a Chinese dish, kung pao chicken is also known as Gong Bao or Kung Po. This sweet and spicy dish was first created in the late 18th century and was named after Ding Baozhen, an imperial Chinese government official who went by the title of Gongboa. After the rise of communism, this chicken and peanut dish lost popularity as it was seen as being a politically incorrect dish due to its association with imperialism. However, this loss of popularity did not result in its total eradication. In the 1980s, Maoist radicals decided to rehabilitate the reputation of this dish. They renamed it Spicy Chicken, and so it saw a new surge among locals and foreigners alike. Due to the punchy flavours and rather western-style ingredients, this dish has become a staple in Asian cuisine restaurants across the globe.
Here is how it’s made
The most basic component of any kung pao chicken dish is cubed chicken that is lightly fried along with onions and garlic. Once these ingredients have browned, a mixture of orange juice and chicken stock is added to the wok to de-glaze the pan. Certain recipes will include extra sugar at this point to achieve the perfect sticky sauce. Additional ingredients are then added to the kung pao chicken, including ginger, chilli, bell peppers and Szechuan peppercorns. The mixture is then stir-fried at a high temperature to allow the broth and orange juice to reduce into a sticky thick sauce. Depending on the recipe being used, you may also find that the sauce is thickened with mixture of corn starch and water. After the dish has cooked it’s garnished with whole roasted peanuts.
Boost the flavour even further
Most restaurants that offer kung pao chicken often serve it with steamed white rice. However, brown rice may be an even better accompaniment to this dish. Not only does this kind of rice make the dish slightly healthier but it also enhances its nutty flavour. Although this dish is typically garnished with roasted peanuts, you may prefer toppings like sliced spring onions, chillis or Kimchi. If you’re not the biggest fan of chicken, you could replace this type of protein with beef or pork when you place your order. You may even be able to order a vegetarian option made with cauliflower.