Kung Pao chicken now globally popular originated in the Sichuan province of China during the Qing dynasty. For more on the history of this spicy chicken dish visit my Instagram profile @deshpandetara

Traditionally this dish is made with chicken and peanuts but you can also use tofu and cashews.

Soaking the chicken in egg white is a technique known as velveting and helps to tenderise the chicken.

Ingredients serves 4

Ingredients for Kung Pao chicken

For marinade

  • 800 grams skinless boneless thigh meat sliced into strips and soaked in half a cup of milk and one egg white for 3-4 hours.
  • 1/4 cup regular soy sauce or low sodium
  • 1.5  tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1  teaspoon white pepper
For the sauce
  • 1/4 tsp finely powdered Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or low sodium

Salt and more brown sugar if required

For stir fry

  • 1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely crushed Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup unroasted unsalted skinless peanuts
  • 2 Thai red chillies
  • 4-8 dried whole Sichuan red chillies or Mathania, Kashmiri or Arbol, stalks removed  (add between 4-5 for your preferred spiciness)
  • 6-7 scallions or green onions bulbs with an inch of the stalk, washed, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 6 inches of celery stalk cut in 6 pieces
  • 1.25 tablespoons of fresh garlic  paste
  • 1.25 tablespoons fresh ginger paste


For chicken marinade

Rinse chicken under cold water and drain fully to remove egg white and milk. The milk helps deodorise the chicken and the egg white tenderises it. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade with the fully drained chicken, stir well and reserve.

Combine the brown sugar and soy sauce and stir to dissolve. Reserve for the sauce.

For the stirfry

Heat half the vegetable oil in heavy bottom non stick pan and saute the peanuts until golden on medium heat.

Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Add remaining vegetable or peanut oil to the pan and saute Sichuan pepper and Thai red chillies on low heat until fragrant about 1-2 minutes. This allows the oil to absorb the flavours of the peppercorns.    Use a slotted spoon to remove the peppers and red chillies and discard them.

Add dried whole red chillies of your choice, 1/2 the scallions and 1/2 the celery and toss on high heat about 1 minute.

Add garlic ginger paste and half the sesame oil and keep stirring to prevent burning about 1 minute until the paste is fragrant.

Add all the chicken with its liquid and toss well. Then pat down and arrange in a single larger in the pan. Lower heat to medium and allow it to cook 2 minute until sauce begins to thicken.

Add all the remaining ingredients for the sauce- chinese vinegar, toasted sesame oil sugar and soy  sauce and stir well. Add more water a little at a time only if required.

Add peanuts, remaining celery and green onions, toss and cook until chicken is tender.

Adjust for salt and sugar.

Serve hot with boiled white rice.