Not Quite Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

We love Chinese food, especially stir fry. In a typical week we’ll make stir fry two or three times, and Jan will occasionally ask me if I’m getting tired of having it for dinner. The answer is always “no.”

This isn’t a completely authentic version. Instead of the red Chinese peppers I used crushed red pepper, added carrots for color and white wine instead of the Shaoxing wine that this dish traditionally calls for. I was also out of scallions and celery and definitely did not want to go to the grocery store this late in the day. I did use homemade chicken stock, though. The last substitution I made was cashews instead of roasted peanuts, just because I love cashews almost as much as stir fry.

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

The chicken, all of the vegetables, and even the soy sauce and cashew nuts I used to make this dish are organic. Pretty good…it’s getting easier and easier to find organic ingredients these days.

I could probably eat my weight in Kung Pao chicken, and I’ve certainly gone on about it here, so who could blame you for thinking that as much as we love Chinese food and as often as we make it we’d have all of the ingredients for an authentic dish? I’m kind of wondering why we don’t have all of the fixings myself. While this isn’t a strictly authentic recipe, it is delicious, and that’s all that really matters, right?

I hope you’ll give this “not quite” Kung Pao chicken a try. Despite the long list of ingredients it’s really easy to make, has a nice “bite” to it, and has a great combination of taste and texture.


Not Quite Kung Pao Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4 servings
  • For the marinade:
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white wine
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • For the stir fry:
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into batons
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • ½ cup cashews
  1. For the marinade:
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  3. Add chicken to marinade, coating thoroughly, cover and set aside at least 30 minutes.
  4. For the stir fry:
  5. Mix sugar, cornstarch and crushed red pepper.
  6. In a small bowl add chicken stock, soy sauce, white wine, white wine vinegar and sesame oil. Stir and set aside.
  7. On medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and cook chicken for about 2 minutes, until almost done.
  8. Remove chicken and set aside.
  9. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan and cook bell pepper and carrots for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
  10. Add cashews and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
  11. Add garlic and ginger, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds.
  12. Add chicken and sauce for stir fry, stir to incorporate, and cover for 1 minute.
  13. Remove and serve immediately over rice.