Recreating the Delicious Mandarin Kung Pao Chicken Recipe from Pei Wei

When it comes to Asian cuisine, Pei Wei has its own special place in the hearts of many. The flavors, the ambiance, and the dishes they serve create an unforgettable dining experience. One dish that stands out is the Mandarin Kung Pao Chicken (or Tofu). It’s a unique take on the classic Kung Pao, with perfectly cooked chicken, vibrant vegetables, and just the right amount of sauce.

As I searched for a copycat recipe online, I was surprised to find nothing that truly captured the essence of Pei Wei’s Kung Pao. Determined to recreate the dish at home, I embarked on a mission to develop a similar recipe. I wanted to create something that was quick, affordable, and, most importantly, delicious.

The Secret to Perfect Kung Pao

To recreate the magic of Pei Wei’s Kung Pao, I started by analyzing what made it so wonderful. The first thing that stood out was the chicken. Pei Wei uses large dices of chicken breast, which gives the dish a distinct texture. Most recipes opt for the more economical thigh meat, but I knew that using breast meat was key to achieving the desired result.

Another aspect that sets Pei Wei’s Kung Pao apart is the choice of vegetables. Instead of the usual green bell peppers, they use sugar snap peas and carrot rounds, giving the dish a fresh and vibrant flavor profile. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find any recipes that took this into account. These peas are truly the star of the show!

Further reading:  The Enchanting Gold Laced Polish Chicken

What also caught my attention was the amount of sauce used in Pei Wei’s Kung Pao. Unlike other versions, their sauce is not overwhelming or soupy. A friend of mine who worked at Pei Wei revealed that they use only about 3 oz. of sauce per recipe. This allows the other flavors to shine through, without being masked by excessive sweetness.

Lastly, I couldn’t resist adding water chestnuts to my recipe. They may or may not be used by Pei Wei, but I simply love the added texture they bring. Feel free to omit them if they’re not to your liking.

The Recipe Unveiled

After much experimentation and tasting, I finally came up with a recipe that was incredibly close to the original. Here’s what you’ll need to recreate the magic of Pei Wei’s Mandarin Kung Pao Chicken in your own kitchen:

Kung Pao Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon red chile paste
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Mirin
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup frozen crinkle-cut carrots
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
  • 10 dried red chile peppers (add a dash of red pepper flakes for extra spice, if desired)
  • 4 green onions, sliced (including green parts)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Start by making the sauce. In a bowl, combine the red chile paste, low-sodium soy sauce, Mirin, seasoned rice wine vinegar, sugar, chicken broth, cornstarch, and dark sesame oil. Whisk everything together until well combined, and set aside.
  2. Dip the chicken pieces in the whisked egg, then coat them in cornstarch.
  3. Heat the canola oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides until cooked through. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside in a bowl.
  4. Add a little more oil to the pan if needed, and quickly sauté the sugar snap peas and carrots for about a minute. Remove them from the pan and add them to the bowl with the chicken.
  5. In the same pan, sauté the peanuts and dried red chile peppers until the peanuts turn dark. Be careful, as this process happens very fast.
  6. Add the green onions and minced garlic to the pan, and sauté them until you can smell the aroma of the garlic. Be sure not to let the garlic burn.
  7. Return all the previously sautéed ingredients to the pan. If using water chestnuts, add them now. Pour in the sauce and continue cooking until the sauce thickens.
  8. Serve your delightful Kung Pao Chicken over brown or fried rice.
  9. This recipe serves approximately 4 people.
Further reading:  Easy Pakistani Style White Chicken Karahi

Delicious Kung Pao Chicken

Enjoy the fruits of your labor! While it may not be an exact replication of Pei Wei’s Kung Pao, this recipe comes pretty close. The flavors are bold, the textures are satisfying, and the experience is simply delightful. Don’t be afraid to adjust the saltiness to your taste by adding a touch of low-sodium soy sauce.

For more mouth-watering recipes and cooking inspiration, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ. Happy cooking!