Spicy Chicken with Peanuts

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a Main Course.

Appears in

Chinese Technique

By Ken Hom

Published 1981

  • About

With the chicken cubed and velveted well in advance, this dish goes together quickly. Typical of the Sichuan region, where it originated, the flavors are robust with garlic and scallions and hot with chili peppers. The contrast in tastes and textures is unbeatable. For variations, try cubed pork (not velveted), beef, or shrimp.


  • ¼ cup raw unsalted peanuts
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 whole dried chili peppers
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced


  • 1 tablespoon chili paste with garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon chinkiang vinegar, or 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold chicken broth
  • 1 whole chicken breast, cubed and velveted


Velveting, stir-frying

  1. stir-fry the peanuts over a high flame in 1 tablespoon of the oil until they develop a golden-brown color. This brings out their flavor. Take care not to let them burn. Remove them and set them aside.

  2. Lower the flame to medium. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and flavor it with the peppers.

  3. With the oil still at medium heat, add the scallions and garlic. Stir-fry them for 10 to 20 seconds, until their aroma rises from the wok.

  4. Add the sauce ingredients. When the sauce comes to a boil, add the cornstarch dissolved in broth. The sauce must be thick enough to coat the chicken pieces. Since the chicken is not seasoned, the sauce is the seasoning.

  5. Add the chicken pieces and the peanuts. Quickly toss to coat them well. Stir and toss the chicken for 10 to 30 seconds, or until the pieces are cooked through.

  6. Turn the chicken out on a serving plate. The flavor should be quite spicy, but not so hot that you cannot taste the chicken. It is the interplay of flavors and textures that makes this such a superb dish.

  • Chicken may be cubed and velveted in advance.
  • Suggested Beverage: Medium-sweet sherry or beer