Kung Pao Chicken

1 lb (450 g) boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut in 3/4-inch (2-cm) cubes
2 tbsp (30 mL) minced ginger
1 tbsp (15 mL) minced garlic
2-1/2 tsp (12 mL) cornstarch
1 tsp (5 mL) soy sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) + 1 tbsp (15 mL) Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
2 tsp (10 mL) granulated sugar, divided
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt, divided
1 tsp (5 mL) cold water
2 tbsp (30 mL) chicken broth
1 tbsp (15 mL) Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) dark soy sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) peanut oil
4 or 8 dried red chili peppers, snipped on one end (keep seeds inside)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) Sichuan peppercorns, roasted, ground
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) squares
3/4 cup (185 mL) unsalted, roasted peanuts
1/2 cup (125 mL) minced green onions
Steamed rice for serving (optional)

In medium bowl, combine chicken, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, soy sauce, 1 tsp (5 mL) rice wine or sherry, 1 tsp (5 mL) sugar, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt and water. Stir to combine.

In small bowl, combine broth, vinegar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil and remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) rice wine or sherry.

Heat 14-inch (36-cm) flat-bottomed wok over high heat until bead of water vaporizes within 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tbsp (15 mL) peanut oil. Add chilies and Sichuan pepper. Stir-fry 15 seconds or until chilies just begin to smoke. Push to side of wok. Carefully add chicken; spread evenly in one layer. Cook, undisturbed, 1 minute, letting chicken begin to sear. Then stir-fry 1 minute or until chicken is lightly browned but not cooked through.

Swirl remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) peanut oil into wok. Add bell peppers. Stir-fry 1 minute or until peppers being to soften. Swirl broth mixture into wok; stir-fry 1 minute or until chicken is just cooked through. Add peanuts and onions. Sprinkle on remaining 1 tsp (5 mL) sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Stir-fry 30 seconds or until onions are bright green.

If desired, serve with rice.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Source: Toronto Star, Feb 1 2011