Szechuan or Kung Po chicken is world famous for being aromatically spicy and fiery, with a mouth-numbing after-effect. You can make this as spicy or non-spicy as you like. Below is the recipe for a spicy version (as we like it hot!), so just skip the fresh chilli and half the szechuan pepper if you want it less spicy and then taste/add more at the end of cooking if you need to. Usually Szechuan dishes in China have peanuts or cashews mixed in – due to nut allergies we omit these, but feel free to add a few if you fancy it.

Szechuan pepper does not create heat in the mouth, rather it has a numbing effect. This recipe is healthier than the sometime deep fried version and you can use minimal oil when frying the chicken. The recipe may seem complicated as there are different stages to it, but once you have cooked this once, you’ll realise how easy and tasty this is to cook!

Ingredients

  • Chicken breast or thigh cut into bite size pieces
  • Red bell pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Yellow/orange bell pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Brocolli
  • Green/french beans
  • Carrots
  • 1 birds eye chilli chopped (with seeds in or out, whichever you prefer)
  • Cooking oil for stir-frying

For the marinade:

  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp finely crushed or ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp cornflour

For the sauce:

  • 1.5 tsp Sichuan peppercorns finely crushed or ground
  • 1 Tbsp ginger minced
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 small shallots or red onions thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil

Method

  1. In a medium size bowl, combine the chicken pieces with the marinade ingredients. Cover and marinate refrigerated for about 15 minutes.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan/wok, then gently drop the chicken into the oil and loosen them up immediately with the spatula to prevent the chicken pieces from sticking together. Stir fry the chicken to a light golden brown color. Remove the chicken and place on a dish lined with paper towels to remove excess oil and set to one side.
  3. In the same pan you have taken the chicken out of (if needed add a little more oil) add the garlic, stir quickly. Add the ginger and stir quickly. Turn the heat down to medium, add the sliced shallots/oniond and the crushed Sichuan peppercorns. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes until the shallots turn golden brown.
  4. Add the vegetables and continue stir frying for about 3 minutes, until the veg softens up.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan. Stir quickly with a spatula to combine all the ingredients.
  6. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and continue cooking for another minute or so, until the sauce thickens.
  7. Taste for spiciness. Add more szechuan pepper or chilli if needed and stir.
  8. Serve immediately with white long grain rice