• Kung pao chicken (Feast / Brett Stephens)Source: Feast / Brett Stephens

This chicken stir-fry recipe is packed full of spice and flavour. The Szechuan peppercorns (actually not a pepper but the berries from the prickly ash tree) add a wonderful fragrance and a lemony, tingly pepper tang to the dish.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (170 votes)


  • 2 large chicken breast fillets (about 600 g), cut into 2.5 cm pieces
  • 3 tsp Chinese rice wine (shaoxing) (see Note)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp salt-reduced soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar (chinkiang) (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 75 g (½ cup) unsalted raw peanuts
  • 8 small dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns (see Note)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal into 2.5 cm pieces
  • steamed rice or flower rolls, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 30 minutes

Drink 2011 Mt Difficulty 'Roaring Meg' Pinot Gris ($26).

Combine chicken with rice wine, sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy and 2 tsp cornflour in a bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes, then drain, reserving the marinade. Combine remaining 2 tsp cornflour, 1 tbsp soy, stock, sugar and vinegar in a bowl.

Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a wok over medium–high heat. Add peanuts and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Cook chicken in 3 batches, tossing for 2 minutes or until browned. Remove from wok and set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil, add chillies, peppercorns and garlic, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant and chillies darken slightly. Return chicken to wok, stir in reserved marinade and chicken stock mixture. Cook for a further minute or until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through. Stir in spring onions and peanuts, and serve with steamed rice or flower rolls.


• Shaoxing is from selected supermarkets and Asian food shops. Substitute dry sherry.
• Chinese black vinegar is from Asian food shops. Substitute rice wine vinegar. 
• Szechuan peppercorns are from selected delis and Asian food shops. 

Photography by Brett Stevens.


As seen in Feast magazine, Jan 2012, Issue 5. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.