- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.