Authentic Kung Pao Chicken (Foreigner Style)

A plate of Kung Pao Chicken with tea and steamed rice

An Ex-pat staple food

Whenever sitting down to eat in any restaurant in China, the wait staff would usually turn the menu pages to the Kung Pao Chicken picture knowing that I, an American ex-pat living in Beijing, would insist on ordering the dish.  It’s true.  I will ALWAYS order Kung Pao Chicken.  I can’t resist one of my favorite Chinese dishes.
However, ever since leaving Beijing, I’ve had a difficult time trying to satiate my craving for a good and authentic Kung Pao.  The Malaysian version of it just doesn’t do it for me.  I’ll just have to make my favorite dish myself.

How authentic is it?

So, after researching and experimenting with recipes, I came across a recipe that I find to be as authentic as anything you can find in China only with minor adjustments.  For example, one typically eats around the Szechuan peppercorns and chilies which are left in the dish.  However, in this recipe, I’ve infused them into the oil before removing them, allowing for the diner to go all-in on that chicken stir-fry without fear of crunching into a Szechuan peppercorn and subsequently numbing their tongue.

Feel free to dice the chicken up into smaller pieces but I prefer a good chunk to bite into, hence the 2 cm pieces.  Serve with a bowl of steamed rice and a big Tsingtao beer and you’ll feel like you’re in the Middle Kingdom-minus the stares, of course.


Kung Pao chicken over steamed rice with tea and chopsticks



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Kung Pao chicken over steamed rice with tea and chopsticks

Authentic Kung Pao Chicken (Foreigner Style)

  • Author: Spicepaw
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4 1x


Change up the pace with this authentic Chinese recipe for Kung Pao Chicken. Stir-fried chicken in a spicy soy vinegar sauce with leeks and peanuts. #chicken #stirfry #chinesefoodrecipes #quickrecipes #Szechuan


Stir Fry

2 chicken breasts (diced in 2 cm/ 1 in cubes)

23 leeks or large scallions (white parts only, diced 1 cm thick)

½ cup roasted peanuts

36 dried red chilies

1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns

2 tbsp garlic (sliced)

2 tbsp ginger (finely diced)

4 tbsp cooking oil (something that can stand HIGH heat)


2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp cornstarch mixed in 3 tbsp water


Pinch of salt

Pinch of ground white pepper

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or sherry

1 tbsp cornstarch


  1. Toss diced chicken in salt, pepper, soy sauce, wine and cornstarch and let marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, sugar and vinegar and set aside.
Stir Fry:
  1. On high heat, add about 2 tbsp of oil to a large wok.
  2. Add chicken and cook, stirring the chicken constantly until it is no longer pink.  This should take about 2-3 minutes (depending on heat of wok).
  3. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon from wok and set aside.
  4. Add 2 tbsp of oil into wok and cook dried chilies and Szechuan peppercorns on medium-high heat in a wok for about a minute or two until the mixture has infused into the oil, being careful not to burn the chilies.  You’ll know when the chilies have infused when the oil picks up a reddish color and the red chilies begin to turn a darker color.
  5. With a slotted spoon or using a sieve, separate the chilies and peppercorns from the oil and discard.
  6. Add ginger and sliced garlic to the infused chili oil in the wok and cook on high heat for a minute or so.
  7. Add leeks/scallions, stir and cook for another minute or so.
  8. Return chicken to the mixture, stir and cook for about a minute.
  9. Add the peanuts to the mix.  Stir.
  10. Add sauce and mix, allowing sauce mixture to coat everything.
  11. Finally, add cornstarch and water solution to the wok and cook for a minute or so until sauce has thickened.
  12. Remove from heat, serve with rice and enjoy!
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Stir-Fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Keywords: Kung Pao Chicken, chicken, stir-fry, Szechuan, Chinese recipes, peanuts, spicy, authentic recipe

This post was updated on April 17th, 2019.


Eat more Chinese food at home with these recipes:

Hot and Sour Soup with Silken Tofu & Tofu Skins

Chinese Crispy Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Chinese Pork and Shrimp Wonton Soup with Bak Choy


Author: Natasha

I'm just a busy expat mom who has a psychological need to feed people. I enjoy learning about new cultures, (especially the food) and enjoy experimenting with new ingredients and spices

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