I love Kung Pao chicken and the exciting buzz it gives when eating it. Kung pao chicken is a classic Szechuan dish of chicken and peanuts in a fiery hot sauce spiked with Szechuan peppercorns and dried chillies. It is that double hit of peppers that make this dish so exciting. The Szechuan peppercorns has a citrusy flavour and a numbing effect in the mouth. The dried chillies has a hint of smokiness and distinct chilli flavour and heat. Although good with rice, I thought adding glass noodles would be a great one dish meal.
I'm glad to say that my thoughts were right and the result was more satisfying than eating it with rice. Though it only has a few ingredients, it is very aromatic and has an oh-boy-its-hot sort of kick. I am probably not very good at describing taste and the sensation but putting it simply, it is the sort of food that makes you want to eat more...and more.
You'll also be glad to know that the whole dish takes only a few minutes to prepare. As with all stir fries, have everything ready and on hand so that you can quickly throw everything in very quickly. I have opted to add the peanuts at the end, as a sprinkle, to keep its crunch. Along with the coriander leaves, spring onions and omelette strips, it enhances the already tasty dish.
Yield: 4 servings.
200 gms. of glass noodles (mung bean thread noodles/sotanghon)
3 chicken thighs, skinned and deboned or 2 small chicken breast fillets
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1/2 tsp. light sesame oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c. of whole peanuts
2 tbsps. tomato puree (tomato paste)
2/3 c. of chicken stock
2 tsps. of Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar) or rice vinegar
2 tbsps. brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsps. of light soy sauce
4 cloves of garlic, chopped (about 1 1/2 tbsps.)
2-3 dried chillies cut into 1/2" lengths
1 tsp. of Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
1 bunch spring onions, white and green parts separated, cut into thin rounds
1 1/2 tsp. of sesame oil
1/4 c. chopped coriander leaves
Soak the noodles in warm water to soften for 5-10. Drain very well.
Cut the chicken into thin strips. Season with the 2 tsps. of light soy sauce and 1/2 tsp. of sesame oil. Set aside.
Make 2 omelettes with the beaten eggs. Roll and cut into thin strips. Set aside.
Heat up 1/4 c. of oil in a wok and fry the peanuts until browned. You can use either skinned or skinless peanuts for this. Peel the peanuts after frying if using the skinned ones. Set aside.
Whisk together the tomato puree, chicken stock, vinegar, brown sugar and light soy sauce to make a sauce. Set aside.
Heat up a wok. You can use the same one used for frying the peanuts but reduce the oil to 2 tbsps.
Add the chopped garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the seasoned chicken pieces, the dried chillies and the Szechuan peppercorns and stir fry again for 2 minutes.
Add the white parts of the spring onions and the softened noodles. Stir fry again for 2 minutes.
Add the sauce and stir fry until all of the sauce is absorbed and the noodles are done, about 4 minutes. Add the sesame oil and the green parts of the spring onions and stir. Take off the heat and transfer to a serving dish or four individual bowls. Sprinkle with the omelette strips, chopped coriander and peanuts.
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