I love a good copycat recipe and I love, love, LOVE Chinese food. I have an awesome recipe for you today that is definitely a keeper. Hi everyone, it’s Nicky here again from Kitchen Sanctuary. You’re going to love delicious copycat recipe for Kung Pao Chicken.
I have a few copycat recipes I’ve been playing with lately, and this post was almost going to be a recipe for ‘Firecracker chicken’. I’ve made it quite a few times at home, and it always goes down really well. I was just starting to prep my ingredient list, when I realised, you’ve probably never heard of Firecracker chicken! It’s an amazing spicy dish from a restaurant chain called Wagamama – which I presumed was a chain that had come over to the UK from the US, but on further investigation I found out there’re only 4 Wagamama restaurants in the US (compared to the 100+ restaurants in the UK) Doh!
Not to be dissuaded from a tongue-tingling spicy chicken dish, I decided to go for a Panda Express classic.
Copycat Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
Believe it or not, Panda Express hasn’t really made it over to the UK, but I’ve paid the place a fair few visits on holidays to the US, and love their Kung Pao chicken. My version involves making a marinade – a third of which is used to marinade the chicken. The remaining 2/3rds is added at the end along with the vegetables and reduced down to get a thick sauce with loads of flavour.
The meal contains the whole dried red chillies, as you find in the Panda Express version, but these can easily be added at the very end with the peanuts – so you can dish out a portion for the kids before adding the chillies. The question from me to you is – do you eat the chillies? Or leave them on the side of your plate? I think the last time I had it I left them, because they just look so hot and scary! My husband Chris took a large bite of one, and I’ve never seen him down a pint of water so fast! Ha ha – and he generally likes his spicy food.
I find you get the right amount of heat if you snip the chillies a couple of times when they’re in the pan – so they release a bit of the heat, without you having to lose the functionality of your taste buds for the next 24 hours….
Print This Kung Pao Chicken Recipe ~ Panda Express Copycat
Kung Pao Chicken – Copycat Panda Express Recipe
- FOR MARINADE
- 2 tbsp rice wine
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 5 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger peeled and grated
- ½ tsp ground sechuan peppers optional – for those of you who like it hotter
- REMAINING INGREDIENTS
- 3 chicken breasts chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 teaspoon cornflour/cornstarch
- 1 tbsp vegetable Oil
- 8 Dry Whole Chilli Peppers
- 2 Red Bell Pepper chopped into squares
- 1 medium sized courgette/zucchini chopped into chunks
- 12 spring onions/scallions chopped roughly
- ½ cup unsalted peanuts
Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl.
Place the chopped chicken in a separate bowl and mix with the cornflour/cornstarch, then stir in 1/3 of the marinade ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to 12 hours).
Heat your wok or frying pan over a medium heat and add the whole chilli peppers. Dry cook for a couple of minutes – turning regularly until the chillies go darker in colour. They burn quite quickly, so keep a close eye on them. Remove from the pan when they’ve darkened and gone a little softer.
Add the oil to your work, heat on a high heat and then add the chicken. Fry until cooked through – about 7-8 minutes.
Add in the red peppers, courgette/zucchini and spring onions/scallions. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until heated through, but still crunchy.
Add in the remaining 2/3rds of the marinade and the chillies and cook until the sauce thickens slightly – about 2 minutes.
If you’d prefer the sauce to thicken even more, you can mix a tbsp. of cornflour/cornstarch with a couple of tbsp. of cold water, then pour this mix in whilst stirring. The sauce will thicken very quickly.
Add in the peanuts just before serving, and give them a quick stir. Serve over boiled rice (with a large glass of water if you intend to eat those chillies!)
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Outstanding recipes to supplement your Chinese food dinner:
Chicken Fried Rice – I got this recipe from a host on one of my favorite morning shows, here in Utah. I have made it for my family many, many times and am frequently asked for the recipe. I can easily say that it’s better than the fried rice I’ve had at any Chinese food restaurant. I like to double the recipe so we have leftovers (yum!)
Homemade Fortune Cookies – This was a fun recipe to make with the kids. I never thought about making our own fortune cookies, but I would totally do it again! And, if you don’t want to make your own, and would rather just put your own fortunes inside existing fortune cookies, check out DIY Fortune Cookie Messages.
Chinese Chicken Salad – This is one of the very first recipes I shared on the blog, over 10 years ago, and it’s still going strong today. This is a great side dish or I love to serve it for lunch or bring to a BBQ.
Instant Pot General Tso’s Chicken – What’s a Chinese food dinner without multiple entrees?!? This simple instant pot chicken recipe can be cooking at the same time you’re putting together your kung pao chicken. And, with it being in the Instant Pot, it will stay warm until you’re ready to serve your feast!
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