Kung Pao Chicken Drumsticks

If Ludacris has one favorite dish at Straits Atlanta, it's these succulent, crispy drumettes (called "lollipops" at the restaurant). They're Chris Yeo's riff on kung pao, a Szechuan dish made with stir-fried diced chicken and chiles; the chef uses the cooked chiles as the base for the rich dipping sauce. "The sauce is so well spiced, and the meat just falls off the bone," Ludacris says.


Slideshow: Fast Asian Recipes


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  • Servings: 10

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  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup dried red chiles, such as chile de árbol
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce (see Note)
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 3 1/2 pounds chicken drumettes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish

How to make this recipe

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chiles and cook until they turn dark red, about 2 minutes. Lower the heat to moderate, add the sugar, soy sauce, tamari, sherry and vinegar and simmer until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.

  2. Strain the sauce and return it to the saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and bring back to a boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and scallions and transfer to a bowl.

  3. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large pot, bring 3 inches of oil to 325°. Season the chicken drumettes with salt and pepper and dust generously with flour. Set a rack over a rimmed baking sheet near the stove. Working in batches, fry the drumettes until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain the drumettes on the rack and keep warm on a platter in the oven while you fry the rest. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and serve with the kung pao sauce.

Make Ahead

The sauce can be refrigerated for 2 days. Reheat before serving.


Like soy sauce, tamari is made from soy beans, but it has a richer, cleaner flavor. It's available at some grocery stores and at Asian markets.

Contributed By Photo © John Kernick Published May 2009

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