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Spicy Chicken with Peanuts

A traditional western Chinese recipe from Ken Hom. This vibrant dish, known as kung pao chicken, is infused with red chillies, root ginger and sesame oil.


This classic western Chinese dish is better known as gongbao or kung pao chicken. There are many versions of this recipe; this one is close to the original and is also easy to make.

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3 tbsp groundnut oil
3 dried red chillies, halved lengthways
450g (1lb) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2.5cm (1in) chunks
75g (3oz) roasted peanuts
For the sauce:
2 tbsp home-made chicken stock or good-quality bought stock
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic
2 tsp finely chopped spring onions
1 tsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
2 tsp Chinese white rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sesame oil

Essential kit

You will need a wok.


Heat a wok over a high heat. Add the oil and chillies and stir-fry for a few seconds (you may remove the chillies when they turn black or leave them in).

Add the chicken and peanuts and stir-fry for 1 minute. Remove the chicken, peanuts and chillies from the wok and drain in a colander.

Put all the sauce ingredients, except the sesame oil, into the wok. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat.

Return the chicken, peanuts and chillies to the wok and cook for about 3–4 minutes in the sauce, mixing well. Finally, add the sesame oil, give the mixture a good stir, remove the chillies, if you prefer, and serve straight away.

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