Kung Pao Chicken
|By :Jeffrey Eisner|
If you’re a Seinfeld lover, you’ll know George Costanza can’t resist spicy kung pao chicken—and, like George, Jeffrey also likes his chicken spicy! This Chinese-American classic focuses on a spicy-sweet-savory sauce, peppers, and peanuts. It’s a sure-fire hit every time. But don’t worry, you can totally forego the spice if you wish.
|Course||Dinner, Main Course|
|Cooking Technique||Pressure Cook, Sauté|
|Main Ingredient||Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breast, chinese black vinegar, Green Bell Pepper, Red Pepper, Shaoxing wine|
|Keyword||instant pot recipe, instant pot recipes|
|Prep Time||15 minutes|
|Cook Time||35 minutes|
- 1/4 cup sesame oil any kind
- 1 medium white or yellow onion sliced into 1-inch strips
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and coarsely diced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and coarsely diced
- 1 bunch scallions sliced, with crunchy white and light green bottoms separated from the softer dark green tops (reserve some for garnish if you like)
- 6 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts about 1/2 inch thick and cut into 1-inch bite-size pieces
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
- 2 tbsp chinese black vinegar
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp cold water
- 1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter optional, for a bit of a peanut kick to the sauce
- 1/2 - 1 tbsp chili-garlic sauce optional, for lovely spice; add more or less to taste
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes optional, if you want it very spicy; add more or less to taste
- 1/2 cup roasted salted, or dry-roasted peanuts plus more for garnish
- Water chestnuts diced optional, for crunch
- Dried red chile peppers optional
- Add the sesame oil to the Instant Pot, hit Sauté, and Adjust so it’s on the More or High setting. Allow it to heat for 3 minutes, then add the onion, bell peppers, and dark green scallion tops and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the chicken and sauté for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until pinkish-white in color (it shouldn’t be fully cooked at this point).
- Add the broth and deglaze the bottom of the pot so anything that may have stuck comes up. Add the soy sauce, black vinegar, and Shaoxing wine. Give everything a good stir.
- Secure the lid and move the valve to the sealing position. Hit Cancel and then Manual or Pressure Cook on High Pressure for 7 minutes. Quick release when done.
- Meanwhile, make a slurry by mixing together the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl until smooth.
- When the lid is off, it won’t look gorgeous yet, but it’s about to! Hit Cancel and then hit Sauté and Adjust so it’s on the More or High setting again. As it comes to a bubble, add the hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, peanut butter (if using), chili-garlic sauce (if using), and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir well. When bubbling, stir in the cornstarch slurry, allow to bubble for 30 seconds, and then turn the pot off by hitting Cancel. Once the bubbles die down, the sauce will have become the perfect consistency—gravy-like and clinging to the tender chicken.
- Lastly, stir in the peanuts, water chestnuts (if using), and white and light green crunchy portions of the scallions. Transfer to a serving dish and top with more peanuts and dried red chile peppers if you desire.
Lighter comforts: Make it gluten-free by using gluten-free hoisin sauce and oyster sauce as well as tamari or coconut aminos in lieu of the soy sauce. Coconut aminos will keep it soy-free as well.
JEFF’S TIP: Chinese black vinegar is available at any international/Asian market and online. But you can sub Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar if you wish. Shaoxing wine is also easily available at any international/Asian market and online. Or use sherry wine.
Want other vegetables in there, such as carrots, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, or baby corn? Add them while sautéing in Step 1.
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