Easy Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Quickly deep-fry chicken thighs, then toss in a silky, umami-rich sauce in this version of the take-out classic.
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin 

Serves: 2 to 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes


2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch 
1 egg white 
pinch of kosher salt 
pinch of white pepper 
6 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
1 pound|450 gram boneless and skinless chicken (dark meat, whole leg is preferred), cut into 1-inch pieces
8 pieces tianjin chili pepper 
6 scallions, whites cut into 1-inch pieces, greens thinly sliced for garnish
¾ cup|90 grams roasted peanuts 
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 ½ teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons light soy
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine 
¼ cup|60 grams granulated sugar 
2 ½ tablespoons hoisin 
1 teaspoon MSG
2 tablespoons white vinegar 



  1. Marinate the chicken: In a large bowl, add and mix the ingredients one at a time in this order: egg white; cornstarch; salt and pepper; 3 tablespoons oil. Add the chicken and toss to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes. Note: This process is called velvetting. The ingredients create a barrier around the protein that allows it to retain moisture. 
  2. Heat up 2-inches of oil in a large saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°F. Working in batches, slowly add the chicken and stir and separate the chicken so it doesn’t clump up into one big ball. NOTE: This might seem like “deep frying” but in Chinese we call it “passing through oil” and it's a way to sear large amounts of protein in a short period of time. Oil needs to be hot to get the searing effect so it doesn’t actually deep fry. Cook chicken for one minute, then, using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the chilies and scallion whites cook until fragrant, 1 minute, then toss in the peanuts and garlic. Cook until fragrant, 1 minute, then toss in the chicken. Add the soy sauces and cook until the chicken absorbs the soy sauce color, about 1 minute. Deglaze with the Shaoxing, then stir in the sugar, hoisin, and MSG. Toss and deglaze with the vinegar. Toss and serve with cooked rice. Garnish with the scallion greens.

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