I'm reading this review and instantly know, at the very least it is missing steps, and at maybe it is even written to be unsuccesful on purpose. As a long time kung pao chicken fan, and a recent 2 year long fan of the kung pao chicken from birds of a feather in Brooklyn ( SRSLY it is the best kung pao i have had in all of brooklyn - I order this stuff all the time (until i started cooking it at home) and it is such a melt in your mouth chicken delight), I was quite intrigued by this article. I have done a fair amount of chinese cooking recently, and have been cooking kung pao chicken specifically, but using the recipe from the omnivores cookbook ( which turns out better than I could have ever imagined- but is not quite as good as the kung pao from birds of a feather). Key steps are missing in the recipe, specifically the marinating and velvetting of the chicken (the secret to silky tender chinese meats), deglazing with the shaoxing wine, using normal rice vinegar instead of black chiangkang vinegar, way too long of a cooking time for the chicken, not enough aromoatics, and not enough sauce! Dang I just know this recipe is going to yield a dry and bland version of kungpao without even making it. The one thing i might try to get closer to kung pao of birds of a feather that I was tipped off to in this recipe, is to toast the dried chinese red peppers along with the szechuan peppercorns to get some extra flavor out of them. I had previously only been toasting the szechuan peppercorns
I made this completely as written and am an experienced home cook. Chicken was entirely bland and in dire need of waaaaaay more sauce. The narrative claims to enjoy eating leftover sauce with rice. Clearly the restaurant version does not use this meager, barely-there amount. How can it be a "fabulous recipe" with such serious proportion issues? That's why the low rating. If one must significantly alter the recipe due to such a flaw in proportion, then it's not a good recipe.
After eating the disappointingly underseasoned, undersauced version, I made a double batch of sauce and returned all to the wok. So, about tripling sauce. Now- it was good!
Even at that, the sauce was tight. I would recommend saving any chicken juices to loosen it a bit. Or use some wine.
This was fabulous! I got the peppercorns and potato starch via Amazon - they weren't too expensive. Next time I'll triple the sauce and add veggies to bulk out the dish but the flavor was perfectly like the best Kung Pao I've had at restaurants. Totally worth it!
Fast, easy and delicious. Subbed the Szechuan peppercorn with Tellicherry and a bit of whole coriander and used Chile de Arbol - all from my pantry. I always add more garlic and ginger!! Delicious with simple roasted cauliflower instead of rice to help with the carb count.