This is one of five books I own from the Australian kitchens of the Reader’s Digest. co enough, three of the five have page 32s that feature recipes using chicken.
Chapters in this book cover poultry, fish and seafood, beef and other meats, and vegetables, tofu and mushrooms. There are also recipes for rice, noodles, sauces and pastes that can be used with stir-fries.
Pages 32–33 have a traditional Chinese recipe. It’s made healthier by stir-frying rather than deep-frying the chicken.
Kung pao chicken
500 g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons peanut or rice bran oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 dried chillies, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon crushed sichuan peppercorns
2 spring onions, sliced
2 tablespoons salt-reduced soy sauce
1 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup (50 g) cashew nuts or peanut, toasted
steamed rice, to serve
2 teaspoons salt-reduced soy sauce
2 teaspoons shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch)
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the chicken, in two batches if necessary, and cook for 5 minutes, or until just golden. Remove to a plate.
Heat the remaining oil in the wok, add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the chillies, sichuan pepper and the white part of the spring onions and stir-fry for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
Combine the soy sauce, rice wine or sherry and sugar in a small bowl, then add to the chilli mixture in the wok and stir well. Add the chicken and stir-fry for about 2 minutes to heat through. Stir in the spring onion greens and cashew nuts. Remove from the heat, divide among serving bowls and serve with steamed rice.
Instead of chicken thighs, use prawns or scallops. You can also add any of your favourite vegetables, such as red capsicum (bell pepper), green beans, sugarsnap peas or snow peas.
How it played out
I’m a seasoned chilli eater, and can stand a lot of heat. But for this recipe, I thought eight chillies plus the sichuan peppercorns were over the top. As a consequence, I used only four chillies and the full amount of sichuan peppercorns, which was more than enough.
I had three chicken breasts on hand and marinated them for almost an hour. I always have shaoxing rice wine on hand, so have never needed to substitute dry sherry. Cooking was so fast (I used peanut oil) . It took about 15 minutes in all. The cashews added a nice crunch.
Delicious and so quick to make. Especially liked that I didn’t have to deep-fry the chicken pieces. It’s a cooking technique that I rarely use.
I also liked the fact that, as with most stir-fry recipes, different protein and vegetables can be used. I’m adding this to my collection of go-to recipes for busy days.
We’ve had some wonderful Chinese meals on our travels. Here’s a blog post about one on those of those meals in Kashgar in far west China.