Kung Pao chicken

This has to be one of the most ordered and eaten dishes in Chinese restaurants so this is my take on it. The key here is to prep everything before you get cooking as once you get going it is really quick. I have used cashew nuts as a bit of a change as I find they give a creamier finish but you can use peanut if you like. The recipe calls for Facing Heaven Sichuan chillies and they can be bought from Spice Mountain- you can visit them in Borough Market in London or online here. I challenge you to only buy those and not all the other chilli based goodies on offer!

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Ingredients- serves 4
For the marinade

4 skinless chicken breasts- cut into bite size pieces
1 tbsp dark soy
2 tsp Chinese rice wine
1 tsp cornflour

For the sauce
2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns- roasted and ground
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine vinegar
1 tsp dark soy
1 tsp oyster or Hoisin
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp sesame oil

Plus
8 dried Facing Heaven Sichuan chillies
1 small red and 1 small green bell pepper- cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
3cm piece of fresh ginger-grated
3 spring onions- finely sliced
2 handfuls of unsalted cashew nuts (or peanut if you prefer)

1. Start off by marinading the chicken breasts pieces in the soy, rice wine and corn flour. Make sure that when you combine the ingredients that the cornflour had no lumps- give it a good whisk! Cover and leave to rest for around 15 minutes but a little longer if you have time.

2. Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce and check the levels of sweetness and heat so it suits you. Set aside.

3. When you are ready to cook, simply add a splash of groundnut oil to a hot wok and fry the dried chillies for a minute or so. This may smoke a little so be careful- this releases the flavour of the chilli. If you can’t get hold of these specific chillies, any medium heat dried red chillies will be fine. Next up goes the chicken pieces and the peppers; cook the chicken so it is nearly cooked through. Add the sauce you have set aside and the rest of the ingredients except the nuts and onions and then stir well. The sauce should begin to reduce down and leave a coating over the chicken. Just before serving, add in the onion and nuts to warm.

Serve with rice and Asian greens and dig in.

Kung pao chicken- you’ll never pick up that takeaway menu again!

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