Donal Skehan’s Kung Pao Chicken

Serves: 4 Prep Time: 10 Minutes, Cooking Time: 20 MINUTES


Kung pao chicken, a classic Szechuan dish, relies on the numbing heat of Sichuan peppercorns, so they are certainly worth tracking down for this recipe. The aubergine is not traditionally used but works well with the tender chicken.


  • 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 8 free-range skinless chicken thigh fillets, diced
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp runny honey
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 90ml vegetable oil
  • 2 aubergines, cut into chunks
  • 1 red (bell) pepper, deseeded and cut into pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • Bunch of spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • Handful of toasted peanuts
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Steamed basmati rice, to serve
Toast the Sichuan peppercorns in a dry pan then grind roughly in a pestle and mortar. Mix with the cornflour in a bowl and season well. Toss in the chicken and add the rice wine and 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce. Mix well until it is coated and sticky.
Whisk the rest of the soy sauce with the honey and vinegar to make a sauce and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan (skillet) and fry the aubergines over a high heat for 10-12 minutes until they are golden and squishy. Add the red pepper, garlic, ginger and half the spring onions and fry for a few minutes more. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
Tip away most of the oil in the pan and then return to a medium high heat. Add the chicken and chilli flakes and fry until golden all over. Return the vegetables to the pan, add the sauce and cook all together for 3-4 minutes until sticky and fragrant.
Scatter with peanuts, the remaining spring onions and serve with steamed rice.
How to Freeze:Cool completely and freeze in sealed containers for up to 3 months. Defrost fully then reheat in a hot wok until piping hot.