If you don’t usually cook Chinese food, you might have to buy some sauces for this dish, but thankfully they all have a long shelf-life. For the protein, Dalton opts for chicken thighs and cuts them into bite-sized pieces for easy serving.
Next, you’ll need a bit of cornstarch to thicken the sauce. The other components are light and dark soy sauce (the flavors layer for added nuance), Chinese black vinegar, Shaoxing wine (or Chinese cooking wine), brown sugar, sesame oil, and water.
Dalton highlights that the “Special ingredient here is the Chinese black vinegar. It adds a very distinctive sweet and sour note.” You might not guess but it’s made with glutinous rice, which she explains, “has an intensity that adds an important layer of flavor to this dish.” Search for it at Asian supermarkets or online, and if you really can’t find any, Dalton says that balsamic vinegar will work in a pinch.
You’ll stir fry the bulk of the dish in vegetable oil. Minced garlic, finely chopped ginger, and green onions infuse warm aromas, while dries chilis add a kick. Dalton warns to remove the seeds if you want a milder result. Don’t forget the Sichuan peppercorns, which Dalton indicates as key to the overall taste. She notes, “Make sure to grind them down though so they’re crushed.” Finally the kung pao chicken is served with unsalted roasted peanuts for a crunchy texture.