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Kung Pao Chicken
© Melanie Acevedo

Kung Pao Chicken

  • ACTIVE: 10 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 15 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 4
  • FAST

Quick Asian stir-fries make especially satisfying weeknight dinners. Kung pao is traditionally a seriously spicy dish, but we've given ours a moderate level of heat; feel free to adjust the quantity of red-pepper flakes to suit your taste. Serve with steamed rice.

  1. 1 1/3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  2. 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  3. 2 tablespoons sherry
  4. 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  5. 2 teaspoons sugar
  6. 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  7. 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  8. 1/3 cup water
  9. 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  10. 1/2 cup peanuts
  11. 4 scallions, white bulbs and green tops cut separately into 1/2-inch pieces
  12. 1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
  1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sherry, and the 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, water, and the remaining 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sherry, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
  3. In a wok or large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the peanuts and stir-fry until light brown, about 30 seconds. Remove from the pan. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the white part of the scallions and the red-pepper flakes to the pan and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring, until almost done, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the soy-sauce mixture and the scallion tops and simmer until the chicken is just done, about 1 minute longer. Stir in the peanuts.
Notes Variation: Cashew Chicken: Substitute the same amount of cashews for the peanuts.

Suggested Pairing

Since the chicken is salty and spicy, the drink's first job is to refresh. An aromatic white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc from California or South Africa will do nicely, as will your favorite cold beer.

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