Kung Pao Chicken


At chef Ziqiang Lu's Birds of A Feather in Brooklyn, tingly heat from Szechuan peppercorns teams up with slightly sweet dark soy sauce and Shaoxing wine to build deep flavor into this quick stir-fry. Have all of the ingredients at the ready before heating the wok for best results. Lu recommends browning the dried chile peppers until well toasted. This helps tease out their aroma and leaves you with a warming mouthfeel that lingers.

Kung Pao Chicken
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
Total Time:
20 mins
4 to 6


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch piece

  • 1 medium scallion, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon sliced peeled fresh ginger

  • ½ teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, or more to taste

  • 10 dried small red chiles (Tien Tsin or chile de árbol) (about 1/5 ounces)

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce, or more to taste

  • 2 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon lao chou soy sauce (dark soy sauce)

  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry

  • 1 teaspoon potato starch

  • 2 tablespoon crushed roasted peanuts

  • Cooked short-grain rice, for serving


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large wok or skillet over high until shimmering and very hot. Add chicken; cook, stirring constantly, until chicken pieces have separated from each other and chicken is just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer chicken to a plate lined with paper towels; set aside.

  2. Return wok to heat over high; add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add scallion, ginger, peppercorns, chiles, and garlic; stir-fry until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

  3. Return chicken to wok; stir to combine. Stir in vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, dark soy sauce, wine, and potato starch; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and thick, about 1 minute. Add peanuts, and toss to combine. Remove from heat, and serve immediately with rice.


Find Szechuan peppercorns, Shaoxing wine, and dark soy sauce at Chinese grocery stores or online.

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