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Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen Cookbook

Chinese Chicken with Peanuts

Serves: 2
Preparations Time: 20 minutes • Cooking Time: 7 minutes • Rating: Easy

In Chinese restaurants, this dish has the more formidable name of Kung Pao Chicken, which sounds like something from a Batman comic book. One time when I ordered it, it was so spicy that I had to drink all the glasses of water on the table. My friends complained. When I cook it myself, I'm very careful about the red pepper flakes. I add one or two.

This dish also tastes fine without the peanuts, if you think peanuts should be left at the ballpark. That would change the name, though, to Chinese Chicken without Peanuts or Chinese Chicken with Peanuts without Peanuts. Serve with rice.

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar (any kind)
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 boneless chicken breast halves (about 10 ounces)
2 scallions
½ red bell pepper
Handful snow peas (see Mom Tip 1)
1 tablespoon corn oil or peanut oil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon ketchup
¼ cup salted or unsalted peanuts (not honey-roasted)

Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and ginger in a medium-size bowl, stir, and set aside.

Cut the chicken breasts into strips ¼ inch wide and 2 inches long. Add to the bowl and marinate for 10 minutes.

Wash the scallions. Trim ¼ inch off the white root end and 2 inches off the top of the green stalks and discard them. Cut the remaining white and green parts into ½-inch pieces. Wash the red bell pepper. Remove and discard the stem and seeds. Then slice the pepper into strips ¼ inch wide and 2 inches long. Wash the snow peas and pull the strings off the sides by snapping ¼ inch off each end and pulling firmly along each edge. Discard the ends and strings.

Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan over high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for a few seconds. Add the chicken plus the marinade in the bowl, and stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until the chicken has turned white on all sides. Stir-fry means stirring continually with a large spoon or a spatula so the contents of the wok cook quickly on all sides.

Add the scallions, red bell pepper and snow peas and stir-fry for 2 more minutes, or until the vegetables just begin to soften. Stir in the orange juice and ketchup and heat through. I know pouring orange juice into a chicken dish might seem like a leap of faith, but it's worth it. Add the peanuts and stir. Serve hot.

Mom Tip 1
Choose small snow peas — they're more tender than large ones.

Mom Tip 2
Partly frozen chicken is easier to slice. To partly thaw chicken breasts, transfer them from the freezer to the refrigerator the morning you plan to use them. By dinnertime, they will be partly thawed.

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