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p.f. chang's kung pao chicken

Folks - trying to figure this recipe out. I've done a little investigating but need the help of some other skilled cooks.....

From what I can tell, the following are obvious ingredients: roasted peanuts, dry red peppers, oil, chicken, and green onion.

The chicken has some sort of deep fried coating on it, but it is thin and not like the usual stuff you see on chinese fried chicken pieces (i.e. I think it ISN'T flour and egg because it's not puffed up like fried food using an egg based batter typically does).

I know that the chicken and whatever flavoring is used in the deep frying process is done separately from the peanuts/peppers/green onion mix because there isn't any sauce in the final dish, it's just chili oil (kind of spicy from the peppers).

I am guessing the following for the chicken deep frying sauce/batter?:
black mushroom soy sauce
water
granulated sugar
hoisin sauce (Lee Kum Kee?)
oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee?)
Shao Hsing rice cooking wine
cornstarch

I think maybe this makes the batter and then the chicken is deep fried and then mixed with the peanuts/peppers/green onion/oil at the end. However, I am not sure and wondering if anyone else might have some thoughts if they have tried the dish. The hardest part is getting the chicken flavor/texture. Any suggestions for this would be great. Thanks!!!

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  1. By the way - I know the "Top-Secret-Recipe" from Todd Wilbur is not correct (tried it and wasn't close).

    3 Replies
    1. re: johnpjust

      The coating you reference is almost undoubtedly made of cornstarch, not flour. Much thinner and crispier.

      1. re: mamachef

        Thanks! So do you think if I make a "batter" using cornstarch then it will end up being closer to what I'm looking for? I have tried just coating the chicken pieces with cornstarch and then frying, but that was WAY off. Maybe I need to mix the ingredients in with the cornstarch and then fry? I assume I don't need egg then right?

        1. re: johnpjust

          Yep. Batter. Cornstarch replaces flour, though you can do a dredge first to make sure the batter clings well.

    2. You can check your recipe against the famed Fuschia Dunlop whose Sichuan recipe is absolutely delicious.
      http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/cooking/

      In March of 2008 Land of Plenty, Dunlop's wildly popular and authentic cookbook, Land of Plenty. was our COTM (Cookbook of the Month) here at CH. Many of us made her Kung Pao Chicken and reported on our assessment of the recipe. Here are the first two reports...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4946...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4946...
      More reports follow those.

      I realize P. F. Chang's dish may be a little different, but with Dunlop you'll find the correct procedure... Please note: instead of potato flour in the recipe it's perfectly OK to sub cornstarch

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        hmm - thanks. At least it is something to go by that can give me some ideas!

        1. re: Gio

          A note regarding Dunlop's "potato flour": she is actually referring to POTATO STARCH (hence, the ability to substitute cornstarch).

          In the US, "potato flour" is a different thing altogether...it generally refers to a flour made of dried potatoes that have been finely ground. Using it would give very different (and very potato-ey) flavor to the dish.

          1. I have tried and falied but I also believe the sheen is from egg white's which would be include in the marinade.

            1. I think the coating is egg whites but I have had a problem getting the proper browning with it. It does give the sheen I am looking for but that is one of the major problems I have with figuring out this recipe.

              1. I know for a fact that their coating is just potato starch. I asked them directly because we are gluten free.

                1. I got this sauce recipe from a friend who works there. Note that they were unable to give me amounts or even relative amounts, but here it is (in no order whatsoever):
                  Soy sauce, black mushroom soy sauce, sugar, chicken broth, water, oyster sauce

                  Although even if you figure out how to replicate the sauce, I am still mystified by how they cook the chicken. Is it deep fried by itself and then tossed in the sauce? Is it marinated first? Just potato starch? Egg whites?

                  I have tried to recreate this, literally, dozens of times over the last year or two. It always comes out good, but never even close to the same.