Fresh Pepper Kung Pao Chicken

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We consulted with Lisa Cheng Smith of Yun Hai, who specializes in importing phenomenal Chinese and Taiwanese pantry staples, for a Kung Pao recipe that stays very close to the original but includes seasonal peppers.

INGREDIENTS

Marinade

  • 2 tsp. Shaoxing wine, dry sherry, sake, or mirin
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1″ pieces

Stir-Fry

  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1½ tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 8–10 red dried chiles (such as chiles de árbol, bird chiles, or frankly any kind; or ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 Fresno chile, cut into ¼” rings
  • 1 1″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp. Sichuan peppercorns or cracked black peppercorns
  • ⅓ cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • Kosher salt

RECIPE PREPARATION

Marinade

  • Stir wine, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat. Let sit at least 10 minutes or up to 30.

Stir-Fry

  • Stir vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl; set sauce aside.
  • Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high. Add chicken (along with any marinade clinging to it) and cook, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned all over but not cooked through, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high. Add bell pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until browned and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add dried chiles, scallions, Fresno chile, ginger, garlic, and peppercorns. Cook, tossing constantly, until very aromatic and dried chiles are lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Add chicken and reserved sauce and cook, tossing, until liquid is nearly evaporated and coats chicken, about 1 minute longer. Toss in peanuts. Taste and season lightly with salt if needed.
  • Divide chicken stir-fry among plates and serve immediately.

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