The original recipe for Kung Pao Chicken used chicken, just as we are, but there are a few differences that are obvious. Raw peanuts are used and those are hard to come by here in the Northeast. If you have them...great! If not, the taste difference will not be noticeable.
Sichuan peppercorns are flash fried with the raw peanuts at the first step of this recipe, together, but sadly, Sichuan peppercorns are not only hard to come by, but have fallen by the wayside since they were banned in the late 60s for citrus canker. Even though the ban has been lifted, we never fell back in the habit of reintroducing them here. Now if you are able to obtain Facing Heaven or Seven Star Sichuan peppers, I urge you to add them. Not only because they are classically part of this dish, but the whole "numbing" effect which Kung Pao is known for is enhanced many degrees with the addition. If not, simply use your favorite hot chili pepper, I use either jalapeno or habanero.
Kung Pao Chicken
This recipe serves 1(mainly because nobody else dared to eat any). I urge you to double the recipe for 2.
2 T. soy sauce, divided
1 T. plus 1 t. sherry, divided
1 t. corn starch
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite sized pieces
1 t. red wine vinegar
2 T. chicken broth or apple cider or juice
1 t. sugar
2 T. vegetable oil, divided
2 T. roasted peanuts
3-4 small hot chili peppers
1 t. minced garlic in oil
1 t. fresh, minced ginger
1 green onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, seeded, julienned and cut in half cross-wise*
For the marinade, combine 1 T. soy sauce, 1 T. sherry and a pinch of salt in a large bowl; mix well. Add chicken, stir to coat and let stand 30 minutes.
Combine remaining soy sauce, sherry, 1 t. red wine vinegar, chicken broth, sugar and 1 t. cornstarch in a small bowl; mix well and set aside.
Heat 1 T. oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add peanuts and cook 2 minutes; remove and set aside.
Heat remaining oil in wok over medium heat. Add chili pepper and garlic, stir fry until peppers just begin to char, about 1 minute. Increase heat to high and add chicken(discarding marinade) and green peppers; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add fresh ginger and stir-fry until chicken is cooked through, about another minute. Add onions, peanuts to wok. Stir in cornstarch mixture and add to wok; cook and stir until sauce boils and thickens.
*Mix it up for color, use 1/2 yellow and 1/2 red pepper, or 1/3 yellow, 1/3 red and 1/3 green if you prefer