Chengdu-Style Kung Pao Chicken

Time 20 minutes
Yields Serves 4
Chengdu-Style Kung Pao Chicken
(Yuki Sugiura / For The Times)
Marinated Chicken

For the marinated chicken: Place the chicken in a bowl, add the potato starch, soy sauce, wine, salt and 1½ tablespoons cold water. Mix until evenly coated.


For the sauce: Combine the sugar, vinegar, stock, sesame oil, both soy sauces and the starch in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. If you dip your finger in, you should be able to taste the light sweet-and-sour, or “lychee,” base flavor of the dish.


To stir-fry: Heat a well-seasoned wok, large cast-iron skillet or other large skillet over very high heat. Add the oil, carefully swirl to coat the bottom and sides, and immediately add the chiles and peppercorns. Stir-fry briefly, just until the chiles are fragrant and darkening but not burnt, about 15 seconds. Tip in the marinated chicken and stir to separate. As soon as the pieces have separated, add the garlic, ginger and scallion whites and stir-fry until they smell delicious and the chicken is just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Test a piece by cutting it in half to make sure.


Pour the sauce into the center of the wok, wait for a second or two, then stir as the sauce thickens and coats the chicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in the peanuts and serve immediately.

Genevieve Ko is the cooking editor for the Los Angeles Times. She is a cookbook author and has been a food writer, editor and recipe developer for national food media outlets. Ko graduated from Yale after a childhood in Monterey Park.
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