Celebrate Chinese new year with this traditional and delicious kung pao chicken recipe! Served on crispy noodle cakes, it’s a fun and colorful meal to enjoy with friends and family!
Long Life Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Hei Fat Choy!
I wish you a wonderful lunar new year filled with happiness, prosperity and good health!
Chinese new year (also known as spring festival) is a 15-day celebration that is steeped in symbolism and ritual, and represent a fresh new start – a cleansing ceremony of some sort. Chinese or not, this is the time when many of us will go out to enjoy dim sum with family and friends and perhaps, witness a dragon dance show. You might even be tempted to light a few fire crackers, give your house a thorough cleaning (to get rid of any ill-fortune and make space for incoming good luck), offer money in red paper envelopes, or my favorite, host a Chinese new year dinner party!
Certain foods are said to bring good luck:
- fish = abundance
- prawn = happiness
- lettuce = prosperity
- pork = wealth
And noodles symbolize longevity, which is why I’m calling this dish long life kung pao chicken – because it’s served on crispy noodle cakes. Kung pao chicken is such a popular dish in American Chinese cooking that you would think it was invented somewhere in San Francisco, back in the day, to accommodate the western palate. However, kung pao chicken is a traditional dish that originated in the Sichuan province of south-western China. The preparation differs in that no orange juice is used (like in the western version) and lots of tongue numbing Sichuan peppercorns are added. I’m always amazed at how metallic water tastes after chewing on these crazy peppercorns! It’s an acquired taste, that’s for sure!
This kung pao chicken recipe isn’t too spicy, to accommodate those with a sensitive stomach like mine. Though you can easily make it more fiery with an added dollop of sambal oelek. The chicken is marinated in a mix of soy sauce (by using 1/2 tsp Kikkoman Soy Sauce in place of 1/2 tsp table salt, the sodium content of the recipe is cut by 1000 mg), rice vinegar, sesame oil and cornstarch. This technique is called velveting because the cornstarch tenderizes the chicken and gives it a velvety texture. It’s delicious!
The dish is savory, sour and packed with umami – thanks to the soy sauce. A splash of soy sauce can give anything from your Thanksgiving turkey, to lemon chicken to fried rice an added boost of flavor. It’s one of those staple ingredients I can’t
live cook without!
Other Chinese new year related recipes:
- easy shrimp fried rice
- Szechuan chicken
- dry fried green beans
- ginger shrimp balls
- stir fry beef with hoisin sauce
Did you like this Long Life Kung Pao Chicken Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!
- 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into small bite sizes
- 1 small red bell pepper (or half a large one), seeded and chopped into small bite sizes
- 1 small green bell pepper (or half a large one), seeded and chopped into small bite sizes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 dried red chilies, finely chopped
- ¼ cup peanuts (optional)
- 2 scallions, chopped
- Chicken marinade
- 2 tsp Kikkoman soy sauce
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1½ tsp cornstarch
- For the sauce
- 2 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
- 2 tbsp low sodium chicken stock
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp hot chile sauce (such as sambal oelek)
- For the Chinese noodle cakes
- 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
- 2 heaping cups cooked angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti
- Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and add the chicken pieces. Marinate for 30 minutes.
- Combine the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
- In a large pan over medium high heat, add oil and chicken. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until chicken is almost cooked through, and transfer to a plate.
- Add green and red bell peppers to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, until peppers have softened. Add garlic and red chilies, stir well, and cook for 1 minute.
- Return the chicken to the pan and stir well. Add sauce, peanuts and scallions and stir well. Cook for 1 minute or until the sauce has slightly thickened. Turn the heat off and transfer to a bowl.
- Divide noodles into four equal piles.
- Add oil to a pan over medium high heat and when the oil is hot, add noodle piles to the pan. Leave space between them so they don't touch each other.
- Press down on each of them with a spatula and cook until the pasta is crispy and light brown. Flip over and do the same for the other side (about 1-2 minutes for each side).
- Divide the noodle cakes among four plates and top with kung pao chicken. Serve immediately.
Low in sugar
High in niacin
High in vitamin C
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.