Kung Pao Sauce
Shouldn't be hard to find - depends a bit on what style you prefer (sweet or not, spicy or mild)
I set aside some cornstarch/water slurry (it will separate, but what the heck just stir)
Cook my meat in a very hot cast-iron skillet (chicken, beef, whatever) and set aside (set in a colander to avoid collecting too much liquid).
Turn on the exhaust fan. No, REALLY.
Re-heat skillet and add a tiny bit of oil - swirl and add some dried hot peppers - the idea is to barely char them. Add a handful of peanuts and wait just a second or two - a tiny char on some of them is good, but there's a fine line between "any" and "too much." Add any vegetables and aromatics you like (water chestnuts, Szechuan peppercorns, chopped scallions, chopped garlic, chopped ginger, soaked tree-ear fungus), stir a moment only - return meat and add sauce mixture.
A few teaspoons of soy sauce (I prefer fish sauce)
A few teaspoons of rice wine
A teaspoon or two of rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar
Sugar to taste
An ingredient for more heat, if desired:
____Chili paste (I don't recommend Sriracha chili sauce for this)
____Chu Chow Chili Oil
____Some authentic chefs really load on pizza-style crushed red pepper
It will come to a boil as quickly as you can stir the cornstarch slurry. Add cornstarch mixture by small amounts until it thickens sauce to taste, plate quickly and serve.
You're not going to like me, but I'm going to give you mine, which I learned from chinese roomates in grad school. It's dark and spicy and fabulous, but I do not find it's like restaurant kung pao. All ingredients for sauce are at any asian market.
1.5 Tbs Lan Chi chili paste with garlic
1/4 cup Shao Shing Rice wine (NOT vinegar)
1/8 cup Dark soy (or mushroom soy)
1/8 cup Chinkiang Vinegar
1/8 cup regular soy
1 tsp sugar
Marinade: marinate/coat cubed or sliced meat in about 1/4 cup shaoshing and 1 Tbs cornstarch
5 cloves garlic- crushed/chopped
Bunch of scallions, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts- preferably raw
5 dried chilies
Cooking- Toast the peanuts rapidly with a little peanut oil in a hot wok- remove
Heat Peanut oil, add the meat, and "velvet"- meaning cook the outside just barely, but not cooked through- remove back to the bowl it was in. This makes a huge difference in texture.
Heat a little peanut oil- add the chilis to HOT pan- they will start to smoke- don't cough! it will be acrid. After about 10 seconds, add garlic and scallions for about 30 seconds, add sauce, add meat back until cooked through, add peanuts for last minute.
Here is a website with a multitude of Kung pao recipes. I (and I hate to admit this) read them all trying to find one where I had all the ingredients, but ended up going to the store and getting a mix. It was actually pretty darn close to the restaurant sauce that is my fav. It was a Sun Bird brand, and I added some Japanese hot chilies to it.
Anyway here is the site: