Kung Pao Chicken is a staple Chinese dish found at basically every restaurant, but every one of them does it up a little differently. While it normally features a brown sauce with a peanut flair and spicy kick, I’ve had Kung Paos that were mild instead of spicy, more sweet than savory and the reverse. Every Chinese restaurant also seems to have their own special vegetable touches to add to the mix. So, basically, there’s no one proper way to make this dish.
Enter the Instant Pot and Jewish Jeffrey’s spin on it. I wanted the sauce to strike an even balance between sweet & savory and spicy & mild with a gravy-like consistency so it clings to the chicken. I wanted there to be lots of sauce to drape over rice. And I also wanted it to have a hint of peanut flavor IN the sauce since this dish is typically covered in peanuts. Unconventional with fork-lickin’ fortune!
What you’re about to get is some seriously Kung Pao-werful flavor in your Instant Pot!
Here’s How I Made It! (scroll to the bottom for the fully-written recipe):
Begin with some chicken breasts…
…and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
Then take an onion…
…and slice longways into thick strands.
Now grab a red bell pepper…
…and a green bell pepper…
…and cut into chunks.
And it wouldn’t be a Chinese dish without some scallions!
Slice them up and separate into two parts: the darker, softer top portion and the lighter, crunchier bottom portion.
Now go to the Instant Pot, add some sesame oil and give it some heat.
Add in the veggies (except for the lighter, crunchier part of the scallions – those come later)…
…and sauté for a few moments.
Of course, add in some garlic too.
Then, add in the chicken and briefly sauté just until lightly seared and pinkish-white in color.
Next, add in some chicken broth…
…and be sure to deglaze (scrape) the bottom of the pot so nothing is stuck on it.
Add in some low-sodium soy sauce…
…black vinegar (or Balsamic vinegar)…
…and Shaoxing wine (or sherry).
Give it all a good stir, secure the lid and cook at high pressure.
When the lid comes off, it won’t look terribly beautiful…YET! That’s about to change. Give the pot some heat so it bubbles…
…and add in oyster sauce…
…and peanut butter (if you want to – but it gives the sauce an amazing peanut flair!)
A Kung Pao usually indicates an element of spiciness (remember when George Costanza sweats in that Seinfeld episode?). So we’ll also add in some chili garlic sauce.
Give it all a good stir as it should be bubbling by now.
This is our cue to stir in a cornstarch slurry…
…which is going to transform the sauce into a thinner consistency into a rich, gravy-like one!
Finish it off by adding in those peanuts…
…and the lighter, crunchier portion of the scallions.
And there is is folks! Juicy chicken in a rich, sweet, savory, slightly spicy sauce!
Transfer it to a serving dish…
…and top with any remaining peanuts and scallions.
Give it a try…
…and Kung PAO! WOW! A new favorite is born!
At the time of this post, Pressure Luck used Better Than Bouillon/Southeastern Mills for all soup bases and bouillon
- 1/4 cup sesame oil (any kind)
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, sliced longways into 1” strands
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced, with crunchy light green bottom separates from the softer green tops
- 1 green bell pepper, coarsely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, coarsely diced
- 2 tablespoons (6 cloves) crushed garlic
- 2-3 pounds chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubed bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup chicken broth (I used 1 tsp Chicken Better Than Bouillon + 1 cup of water)
- 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce (use low-sodium because regular can make it too salty!)
- 2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar (easily available at any international/Asian market or online. But you can sub Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar if you wish)
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (also easily available at any international/Asian market or online. However, cooking sherry can also be used)
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (optional for a bit of a peanut kick to the sauce)
- 1/2 – 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce (optional for lovely spice, add more or less to taste)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (totally optional if you want it very spicy and you can add more or less to taste)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch + 3 tablespoons water, mixed together to form a slurry
- 1/2 cup roasted, salted or dry peanuts, as well as some for garnish
- Add the sesame oil to the Instant Pot, hit “Sauté” and “Adjust” so it’s on the “More” or “High” setting. Allow it to heat for three minutes and then add in the onion, peppers and soft green portion of the scallions. Sauté for 3 minutes and then add in the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.
- Next, add in the chicken and sauté for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until pinkish-white in color (it shouldn’t be fully cooked by now).
- Add in the broth and deglaze the bottom of the bottom of the pot so anything that may have stuck onto it comes up. Follow up by adding in the soy sauce, black vinegar and Shaoxing wine. Give everything a good stir.
- Secure the lid, move the valve to sealing position, hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 7 minutes. Quick release when done.
- When the lid is off, it won’t look gorgeous yet, but it’s about to! Hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then hit “Sauté” and “Adjust” so it’s on the “More” or “High” setting again. As it comes to a bubble, add in the oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, peanut butter (if using) and chili garlic sauce (if using). Stir well. When bubbling stir in the cornstarch slurry, allow to bubble for 1 minute and then turn the pot off by hitting “Keep Warm/Cancel”. Once the bubbles die down, the sauce will have become the perfect consistency – gravy-like and clinging to the tender chicken.
- Lastly, stir in the peanuts and whiter, crunchier portion of the scallions. Transfer to a serving dish and top with more peanuts and scallions if you desire.
- Serve over white rice, brown rice or noodles!
This is going to make a LOT of sauce, which is wonderful because it’s so good! Feel free to definitely use any leftovers over rice, noodles or vegetables. You can also absolutely refrigerate it for up to a few days in the fridge.
Want other vegetables in there such as carrots, mushrooms, water chestnuts or baby corns (or feel like swapping them out for other veggies listed that you don’t love)? Add them in at Step 1 while sautéing the veggies!
If you want zucchini, add it in Step 5 so it maintains it’s form and becomes slightly softened.