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Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao chicken, Chinese pronounced gong-bao-ji-ding, aka diced chicken and paprika, is a classic dish in Sichuan cuisine, originating in the Sichuan Province of central-western China.

 

The dish is named after Ding Baozhen (1820-1886), a late Qing Dynasty official. Born in Guizhou, Ding served as head of the Shandong province and later as governor of the Sichuan province. His title was Gong Bao, or palatial guardian. The name "Kung Pao" chicken is derived from this title.

The dish exists in both traditional Sichuan and Westernized versions; the latter is more popular in the United States and Canada.

Westernized version

The Westernized version, usually called "Kung Pao chicken," commonly consists of diced marinated chicken stir-fried with skinless unsalted roasted peanuts, red bell peppers, hoisin sauce, and chile peppers. Although chicken is traditionally used, seafood items such as shrimp or scallops, or other meats such as beef or pork, are sometimes used in place of the chicken (although typically only a single meat or seafood is used). It can also be prepared with tofu instead of meat.

A good Kung Pao chicken dish should not be too oily. The sauce, a contrasting blend of fire and sweetness, should cling to the pieces of chicken and season the vegetables, but not coat the peanuts; there should be no pool of sauce on the bottom of the plate. The hot peppers provide the palate-scorching fire, a hint of sugar and a bit of wine bring out the freshness of whatever vegetables are tossed in. The savory soy sauce ties it all together.

In order to prepare Western-style Kung Pao chicken, bits of diced raw chicken are marinated, then dusted with cornstarch, and then a Chinese wok is heated on a high flame, without oil, until it is quite hot. A swish of the ladle spreads a couple of teaspoons of peanut oil, then the chicken is flash fried in the hot oil to bring out the flavor of very slightly charred or grilled meat, but not so long that it loses its juices or tenderness. Next, grated garlic and the vegetables are added, followed by Chinese rice wine, along with a sweet sauce. A tiny drizzle of sesame oil provides the tang, peanuts are added, and the dish is ready in about one and a half minutes, from the time the oil first hits the wok.

Kung Pao chicken is a very popular staple of North American Sichuan-style Chinese restaurants, and many recommend using it as a measure of the skills of a chef.

Whereas the original Chinese version of the dish includes Sichuan peppercorns as an integral ingredient, the Western version does not. From 1968 until 2005 it was illegal to import Sichuan peppercorns into the United States. They were viewed as potential carriers of citrus canker, a tree disease that can potentially harm citrus crops. The ban has now been lifted in light of new processing methods. However, the 37-year ban resulted in a distinct American version of the recipe that does not incorporate Sichuan peppercorns.

Kung Pao Chicken has found popularity among hackers, in whose cultural jargon it is known as "laser chicken". This term probably originates with regard to the spicy hot taste and red sauce, humorously likened to a laser beam.

 

Sichuan version

Gong bao ji ding, the original Sichuan version of "Kung Pao," uses chicken as its primary ingredient. In this vastly different version, diced chicken is typically mixed with a pre-prepared marinade. The wok is seasoned and then the chiles and Sichuan peppercorns are flash fried to add fragrance to the oil. Then the chicken is stir fried and vegetables, along with peanuts, are added. Shaoxing wine is used to enhance flavor in the marinade.

Fresh moist, unroasted peanuts are often used instead of roasted peanuts. In such situations, the peanuts are dropped into the hot oil on the bottom of the wok first, then deep fried until golden brown before the other ingredients are added.

In Sichuan, or when preparing authentic gong bao ji ding, only Sichuan-style chiles such as chao tian jiao or qi xing jiao are used. Smaller, thinner Sichuanese varieties may also be used.

The most important component of the dish is handfuls of the Sichuan peppercorns. It is these peppercorns that give authentic gong bao ji ding its distinctive numbing flavor. Use of hot and numbing flavor, is a typical element of Sichuan cooking. Sichuan peppercorns, along with red chiles, are the key components of this flavor.

 

Kung Pao Chicken recipe

Kung pao is traditionally a highly spicy dish feel free to adjust the quantity of red-pepper flakes to suit your taste

• 1 1/3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 5 tablespoons lite soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons sherry
• 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
• 2 teaspoons sugar or Splenda
• 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
• 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
• 1/3 cup water
• 1/2 cup water chestnuts
• 4 scallions, white bulbs and green tops cut separately into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes

In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sherry, and the 1 tablespoon cornstarch.

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.

In a wok or large nonstick frying pan, spray olive oil cooking spray and heat over moderately high heat. Add the peanuts and stir-fry until light brown, about 30 seconds. Remove from the pan. Spray pan with olive oil cooking spray. 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.

Variation: Cashew Chicken - Substitute the same amount of cashews for the peanuts and save one gram of fat.

Per Serving: 289 Calories; 9g Fat (28.3% calories from fat); 1g Saturated Fat; 39g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 88mg Cholesterol; 926mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain (Starch); 5 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.To attach your special there is a sterling silver link provided which can hold up to three charms. If they appear in listings then they are sure to be an authentic reseller. replica watches, replica watches uk, replica handbags

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