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How to cook safely with non-stick cookware

Did you know that nearly 90% of sales of cooking supplies are for non-stick cookware? Of course, it’s easy-to-use, the food doesn’t stick, it’s easy to clean, you can use the less oil for cooking. But do you know that non-stick coating could kill you?

Teflon (another name of non-stick coating) consists of numerous chemical components and compounds. When the frying pan has overheated these compounds start destroying, breaking out in a volatile form.

In the cooking process, you are breathing with these fumes, and also they penetrate into the food. Some of them are fluoropolymers, that are toxic for the most part. It is for them that make the coating non-stick.

Of course, the keyword is – overheating. You’d think – just don’t overheat and everything’s would be alright. The compounds start destroying only at a temperature above 260 degrees.

WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF OVERHEATING?

As you already know, the temperature at 260 degrees is an extreme point. The hotter points destroy the surface of the frying pan (in other words – destroy the coating) and release the harmful fumes.

At temperatures above 349 degrees, the coating starts destroying more rapidly, emitting so many harmful fumes that, if you breathe them, can cause polymer fever – a condition similar to symptoms with flu, manifested in the form of chills, headache, and high fever. These fumes won’t kill you, but they can kill birds, for example, a domestic parrot, that has weaker airways.

When the temperature reaches 360 degrees, Teflon emits at least 6 different toxic gases, two of which are carcinogens. Scientists agree on the assertion that, because of the small amount of emitted gases, the chances that you will inhale enough of them to harm the body is minimal. Unfortunately, studies of the frequent short-term effects of gases on the body haven’t been conducted, therefore, it is impossible to draw an unambiguous conclusion about safety.

The chemical substance used to produce fluoropolymers, of which, as we already know, consists the coating of non-stick cookware, is called perfluorooctanoic acid.

In the United States, DuPont was the largest producer of this substance (and also dishes), until in the 2000s was proved its negative impact on the environment and the human body. And they did not have to pay claims for several hundred million dollars to injured employees of the enterprise and people living in the neighborhood.

In 2006, the US Environmental Protection Agency recognized perfluorooctanoic acid as a carcinogen. Fortunately for you and me, perfluorooctanoic acid decomposes at a temperature of 190 ºСdegrees, while the technological process of sintering the base of a frying pan with a non-stick coating occurs at a temperature of 420 degrees. Independent European studies have confirmed that non-stick coatings do not contain perfluorooctanoic acid in excess of safe limits.

WHAT IS DANGEROUS AND WHAT NOT TO COOK ON A FRYING PAN WITH A NON-STICK COATING

In an article that became the main basis of this material, Good Housekeeping Research Institute conducted a study in which they investigated how quickly the surface of the pan heats up to unsafe values. For the test, they took 3 different pans: cheap and light (~ 550 gr.), Medium (~ 950 gr.) and heavy (~ 1.2 kg.) And prepared 5 different dishes on them. The study was conducted on a conventional gas hob, so its results are quite relevant for us.

Below are the results of this test. The temperature near the name of the dish indicates the surface temperature of the pan at the end of cooking.

SAFELY

Omelet or scrambled eggs 106 degrees

Cooked over medium heat for three minutes in a light frying pan.

Stir fry chicken and pepper – 160 degrees

It was cooked over high heat for five and a quarter minutes in a light frying pan.

Bacon – 240 degrees

Cooked over high heat for five and a half minutes in a medium frying pan.

DANGEROUS

Empty pan 264 degrees

A light pan reaches an unsafe temperature in one minute forty-five seconds when heated over high heat.

Empty pan with two tbsp of oil 268 degrees

All things being equal with the previous test, it takes two and a half minutes to heat the pan with oil to an unsafe temperature.

Hamburger 303 degrees

The cutlet was cooked over high heat for eight and a half minutes in a heavy frying pan.

Steak 347 degrees

Cooked over high heat for ten minutes in a light frying pan.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF?

You can be sure of the complete safety of your non-stick pan if the food is cooked on it quickly and on low or medium heat. It is also desirable that the products cover the bottom completely, thereby lowering its temperature, such as scrambled eggs or omelets, pancakes, etc.

Below you will find some tips that will help you protect yourself and your loved ones as much as possible from the consequences of improper use of such cookware.

  • Do not heat the pan empty. Since the moment of overheating occurs rather quickly, do not heat the pan empty, without oil. The oil begins to smoke at a temperature of about 200 degrees as if hinting to you that you need to slow down.
  • Do not cook over high heat. Most manufacturers of non-stick cookware do not recommend cooking on fire above average. They do not warn of dangers, but only say that this way you can increase the service life of dishes.
  • Ventilate the room. Turn on the hood, or at least open a window.
  • Do not fry the meat in a non-stick pan. Frying meat requires high temperatures that are higher than safe ones for Teflon.
  • Choose a heavy non-stick pan. It will cost more, but health, after all, is not the thing you can save on.
  • Do not use cookware with a damaged coating. Everyone knows that you should not crawl in a Teflon pan with a metal spoon or spatula. Previously, this could completely ruin the coating, depriving it of non-stick properties. Now the quality of the coating has been improved, but a pan with scratches or nicks on the coating can throw out more harmful substances at lower temperatures. Use wooden spatulas for cooking. Also, do not put the pans one in one for storage, lay between them a napkin or paper towel.

TEFLON WARE SERVICE PERIOD

The service life declared by manufacturers is three to five years with moderate use. Experts advise counting on 2-3 years of operation.

If scratches or even chips appear on the surface of the pan, you just have to throw it away.

CERAMIC NON-STICK COATING

In addition to Teflon, there is another type of non-stick coatings on the market – ceramics. Ceramic coatings are completely safe, but their main disadvantage is the high requirements for operating conditions.

The coating quickly deteriorates if there are sudden changes in temperature on the pan surface, and it is also very sensitive to the use of metal blades and other utensils. In addition, they are not recommended to be heated empty.

It’s hard for me to say anything definite about this type of coverage, because I have never used it myself, and the reviews on the Internet come across too opposite. Somebody says they serve for 5 years, the coating does not lose its properties, everything is fine. For others, the pan becomes unsuitable for use after 2-3 weeks.

Most likely the second problem is in violation of the operating conditions, but you must admit that the pan is not bought for beauty, but for cooking. And during cooking, some incidents can happen – overlooked, overcooked, or was distracted. And if, due to one such incident, the coating of the pan (which is far from the cheapest, by the way) may become worthless, then who needs it?

HOW TO LIVE NOW?

Personally, in the nearest future, I plan to get rid of the non-stick cookware that I use. How to replace it? At the moment I look in the direction of cast iron, although it is likely that by the time of purchase my opinion will change.

Stay tuned for updates to the blog, I will definitely make a material with a comparative characteristic of the cookware coating, based on which I’ll make my choice and recommend something to you.

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How to choose a culinary thermometer

A kitchen thermometer is one of those things that you need to buy first when equipping a kitchen. At first glance, it seems that there is nowhere to use it and it is only needed for beginners or insecure chefs, but this is not at all the case.

When preparing some dishes, a thermometer can help you bring them to the desired point of readiness and serve them exactly as you intended. For example, when cooking steaks, you can precisely control the degree of frying by sticking a thermometer into the meat. And when preparing caramel – you can’t do it without a thermometer at all.

But steaks and caramel are far from the only things to use for a thermometer: chicken, pork, lamb, fish, and so on. For proper preparation, all this requires temperature control and an understanding of the processes that occur inside the product. A thermometer can not only increase your culinary skills because thanks to a more accurate determination of the point of readiness, you will finally stop serving over-dried and non-chewing pieces of meat but even save someone’s life.

If you are not a reinsurer in cooking and the above about over-dried meat is not about you, then you should know the following: it is almost impossible to determine by eye or time a safe temperature for use for a particular product.

Transparent juice flowing from meat, its palpation, exact observance of the time frame – these are just methods for an approximate determination of readiness. Want to get even more confused? Do you know that in some cases and products the white color of meat does not mean that it is 100% safe and ready, just like pink – that it is not ready?

Think about it, professional chefs who spent 10 or more years at work use thermometers for cooking, although most of them are able to determine readiness with closed eyes simply by smelling (this is an exaggeration of course). They use them not because they are not confident in their abilities, but because accuracy and complete control are important to them.

And for us, amateurs, this accuracy and control are even more important. Analysis of measurements not only helps to prepare something correctly, but it also helps to navigate better in the kitchen.

By measuring the temperature and analyzing the results, an understanding of the relationships between temperature, firepower, cooking time, the thickness of a piece of meat, and other factors will gradually come to you. Understanding these dependencies and properly regulating some of them will allow you to cook better, faster, and tastier.

TYPES OF THERMOMETERS

There are two main types of thermometers: electronic and analog. Let’s look at its advantages and disadvantages.

ANALOG THERMOMETERS

The biggest disadvantage of analog thermometers is their accuracy. Although no, they are basically fine with accuracy, the problem is in the scale and its measuring range: it is either narrow, suitable strictly for certain purposes, or wide, suitable for any needs, but with a difficult to read scale – by which you can determine the temperature only approximately, with an error of a few degrees.

The advantages include the relative cheapness and that they are easy to clean. You can easily rinse them under running water without fear that the drops will fall inside, to the electronic part, which will make it unusable.

ELECTRONIC THERMOMETERS

These thermometers are more expensive than their analog counterparts, but at the same time, they have greater accuracy and many other advantages.

There are a huge number of varieties of electronic thermometers, but I will focus on 3 of them, in my opinion, the main ones.

Standard thermometer

By standard, I mean a similar analog design, when the thermometer probe is attached to the main unit, which shows the temperature.

This is the simplest, most popular, and cheapest form.

How to choose a culinary thermometer

Despite the fact that this is the simplest variety, it will cover 95% of all your needs for thermometers. The only minus, in my opinion, is that you can’t stick this thermometer in the meat, put in the oven, and watch the cooking process.

Firstly, there are a lot of plastic parts in it, which simply can melt. Secondly, even with short-term exposure of a high temperature – the displays of most thermometers cease to show the information.

I use just such a thermometer from Weber (as in the photo on the left).

UPD after a few months. No longer. I discovered the ThermoWorks brand and fell in love with it. At the moment I use this one, it is more expensive but it’s worth it. Weber after a few months of use began to show frank nonsense. I don’t know why it happened, maybe it was hit somewhere, maybe something else. But even by comparing the two new devices, Thermoworks wins anyway.

Firstly, it measures faster (and the manufacturer clearly indicates how much time it needs to show the current temperature (5-6 seconds).

Secondly, according to my subjective measurements, it shows a more accurate temperature, although the allowable error for both models is approximately the same.

In the future, I want to buy their Thermapen MK4. It is one of their top models, costing $99 and determining the temperature in 2-3 seconds.

A few more thoughts on why you should not save and immediately buy a good one – read below.

Remote probe thermometers

This is basically the same standard thermometer, its only difference is the probe, which is attached to the body not tightly, but on a special cable.

The remote probe just solves the problem of controlling the readiness of the product in the oven. Whether you need it or not – decide for yourself.

Also, there are models of such thermometers with a lot of additional functions: determining the degree of readiness, timer, sound signal when a certain temperature is reached.How to choose a culinary thermometer

Not all of them need all these chips, and you can easily do without them. On the other hand, they significantly simplify life, allowing you to control the degree of preparation more accurately. As an example, I will give ThermoPro TP-06, which I’m going to buy in the near future.

Here is a partial list of what it can do:

  • The display has three colors of illumination, it lights up blue when you start cooking, green when the dish is almost ready and red when it reaches the set temperature inside the meat.
  • The thermometer’s functionality allows you to choose the type of meat (there is also a “fish” mode) that you are going to cook and set the desired degree of roasting. All that is needed next is just to wait for the timer signal, which will notify you a minute before the meat reaches the desired temperature. If cooking over an open fire, be sure to turn over on time.
  • Suitable for oven, barbecue, grill, and smokehouse. The cable is about 1 m long. It is made of stainless steel and can easily withstand prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

UPD: all the above is relevant, I’m still looking for a similar model, but between the brands, I will definitely look towards ThermoWorks which I’ve written above.

Infrared thermometers

Their essence is that they measure the temperature at a distance.

This type of thermometer is slightly more expensive than standard thermometers and has its own characteristics and disadvantages.

The positive aspects include:

  • temperature measurement from a distance up to several meters;
  • The immediate reaction of the sensor – you do not need to wait 7-10 seconds until the probe heats up to a real temperature, you immediately see the result on the display;
  • since the thermometer doesn’t come in contact with food, it does not need to be cleaned;

The cons:

  • cost: Chinese start at $20, brand models from $50, the difference is in the error of readings;
  • the farther the distance to the measured object – the higher the error;
  • a thermometer is capable of measuring only surface temperature and is not suitable for determining the readiness of meat from the inside;

It is worth buying such a thermometer only if you have a clear idea of ​​how it can be useful to you.

I bought a similar model about 2 years ago and have used it only a few times since then. Its main differences from the standard one are the ability to measure the temperature of a pan, baking sheet, or other surfaces, as well as the ability to measure the temperature without violating the integrity of the dish shall, but in most cases, this doesn’t make sense.

HOW TO CHOOSE AND WHICH THERMOMETER TO BUY?

There is only one rule here – do not buy Chinese junk from Aliexpress or from local resellers.

A $ 2-3 thermometer definitely won’t be good. Be guided by the price of $10 and, preferably, look towards well-known brands. Which ones? I wrote above about Weber and ThermoWorks. Weber – make good, almost non-killable grills, smokehouses, and other devices. And ThermoWorks specialize exclusively in thermometers. Do you know what I mean?

Of course, it may seem to you that they pay me for PR, but this is not at all the case. I recommend a good product that I was pleased with myself, just as I recommended the Weber thermometer first, which after a while disappointed me.

Below is a small list of differences between using cheap Chinese and better thermometers, based on personal experience.

  • Measurement speed: a cheap thermometer needs 3-6 times more time to estimate the temperature;
  • build quality: cheap thermometers are flimsy, they are very easy to break off the probe and despite the fact that it will continue to work, this fact does not turn it into a thermometer with a remote probe, because since then it shows complete rubbish;
  • measurement quality: although the Chinese say an error of +/- 1 degree, in reality, it turns out to be +/- 3 or even +/- 5, it’s good when there is a calibration option, but such an option exists on more expensive models and it’s easier to buy a quality thermometer right away.

Below I have selected several models for you, which I have sorted by price and shared my opinion about each of them – choose whatever you like best and just buy. All these are high-quality good things. The links lead to the American Amazon, they do not send directly to our region, but this is not a problem, there are a huge number of intermediaries that will help you make a purchase.

You can learn more about them and their services from the article intermediaries for purchases abroad and what services they provide, but this is if you are a complete beginner and have never bought anything in foreign online stores and/or on eBay.

If you have the experience, I’ll just recommend to you my intermediary whose services I use quite often – pochtoy.com. I can attribute to their advantages: very high-quality packaging of goods, quick response of support services, pleasant rates.

Polder THM-515 ($7.77) – an analog thermometer for caramel, a temperature range of 40-200 degrees Celsius. Such a model should be chosen only if you are fond of cooking confectionery products and at the same time, you do not need a wider digital functionality.

Weber 6492 ($9.99) is my choice, I use this type of thermometer (no longer). Good quality, tillable display, quick temperature measurement. Suitable for any culinary needs. Suitable for measuring the meat temperature, liquids, and other products where it is possible to stick a probe. Do not leave in the oven / under the closed grill lid.

ThermoPro TP-06 ($24.99) – a thermometer with a remote probe, I wrote about its advantages above. Suitable for all the same needs as the previous one, but thanks to the remote probe, you can measure the temperature inside the dish located in a closed oven.

Ivation IVAWT738 ($69.99) is a real find for device lovers. The thermometer consists of two radio units: in the first one there are two remote probes, each about a meter long, the second is designed to control the temperature. The bottom line is that you can stick one or both probes into the product you are cooking and go to a distance of up to 1 kilometer and take the second block with you. It will display information about the degree of cooking for each of the probes, that is, you can cook two completely different dishes and control their readiness at a distance.

The thermometer also has 15 pre-installed programs for different types of meat/fish, and each of them can be installed on a specific probe: for example, you can stick the first in beef, which you want to fry to a medium degree, and the other in chicken, which you need to bring to full readiness and observe the temperature at the same time. In addition, based on the selected program, each of the sensors will notify you that a particular product has reached the required temperature.

UPD after a few months.

The above models, no doubt, have the right to life, including in your kitchens. I would cross out only Weber, although I still think that for the money that they ask for it, this is a good choice, as well as ThermoPro, reviews of which have recently become worse.
I supplemented the article with a recommendation to look towards the market leader in digital thermometers represented by ThermoWorks, a brand specializing exclusively in thermometers. They have a huge range of the price from $20 to $200 +. For most models, they give a 2-year warranty.

If you want to buy an excellent thermometer and plan to use it often, I wouldn’t recommend saving money, but immediately looking in the direction of this brand. I think they won’t disappoint you.

In our region, buying their products is problematic, you need to order from the official website from the USA.

And here is, what I would recommend paying attention to from the ThermoWorks lineup:How to choose a culinary thermometer How to choose a culinary thermometer How to choose a culinary thermometer

 

Super-Fast® Pocket Thermometer ($24). My new assistant. Temperature measurement in 5-6 seconds, thin probe, good design. The temperature is shown both in Celsius and in Fahrenheit, there are Min / Max functions. The manufacturer claims 5,000 hours of battery life.

Thermapen® Mk4 ($99) The top model of a standard thermometer that measures
temperature in 2-3 seconds. It is considered the fastest thermometer released to the mass market. A favorite of many professional chefs around the world.

ThermaQ® 2 Channel Thermocouple Alarm ($139) – a thermometer with a remote probe, has two independent channels. Please note that this is only a meter; the probes are purchased separately.

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How to choose the cookware material

When it comes to choosing the material of the pan or casserole, we should be interested in only two things, and this is not the brand of dishes, not what is written on the packaging and not at all what the seller tells about:

1) How evenly the material is able to distribute heat over its surface (its conductivity).

2) How effectively does the material retain heat and transfer it to food located on the surface of the pan (heat capacity and density of the material).

Let’s take a closer look at the features of the materials, dishes are most often made from.

STAINLESS STEEL

How to choose the cookware material

“Stainless Steel” – very easy to clean, and as the name implies, it is not subject to corrosion, no matter how severely you use it. But stainless steel is a very poor conductor of heat. This means that heat passes very slowly through it.

Stainless steel pans tend to form hot and cold spots that follow the patterns of flames coming from your gas burner. When cooking some dishes, this can have extremely negative consequences, an omelet, for example, can be burnt in some places, remaining raw in others.

How can I measure the thermal conductivity of your pan?

The easiest way is to sprinkle a thin and evenly thick layer of sugar on its surface, and then put it on the stove and turn on the last one.

Watch how the sugar begins to melt, the places where the sugar melts earlier are hot spots (most likely they are directly above the flames of your stove), while the places where the sugar has not changed its state are cold spots. In a good frying pan, the sugar will melt evenly.

Also, if you suddenly have an infrared kitchen thermometer lying around, you can do the following experiment: put a stainless steel frying pan on the stove and measure the temperature in different parts, if it is approximately equal – the pan is good, if the temperature is different at different points – the conclusion suggests itself.

ALUMINUM

Aluminum is a much better heat conductor. One of the best, actually. In addition, aluminum is an inexpensive material. But the question is: then why all the pans aren’t made of aluminum?

There are a couple of nuances.

Firstly, aluminum is not a very dense material. This means that despite the high conductivity, you will need a pan with a very thick bottom to maintain the required amount of heat.

Secondly, aluminum is being discolored and stained by interaction with acidic ingredients: wine, lemon juice, vinegar, tomatoes, etc.

ANODIZED ALUMINUM

How to choose the cookware material

This is the same aluminum that has been processed to give it a ceramic-like surface that is sufficiently non-stick and acid-resistant.

It is an ideal material for cooking the dishes that don’t require extreme temperatures.

Frying a steak in such a pan is not a good idea, but there is no better surface for making eggs.

COPPER

How to choose the cookware material Remember, I mentioned above that aluminum is one of the best heat conductors. So, copper is an even much more thermally conductive material.

Also, copper is quite dense and has excellent heat capacity.

Cons of copper are the price and its pickiness in care.

Probably everyone who enjoys cooking would like to have a set of copper pans in their arsenal, but not everyone can afford it.

THREE LAYER COOKWARE

How to choose the cookware material

Three-layer cookware ( straightened bottom, layered, etc.) or tri-ply – incorporates the best qualities of aluminum and stainless steel dishes.

This type of cookware is a sandwich, in which the role of bread is played by stainless steel, and the role of filling is aluminum.

That is, we have three layers of metal here: the two extreme ones are stainless steel and the inside is aluminum.

As a result, we get a symbiosis of high-density stainless steel with amazing heat-conducting properties of aluminum.

NON-STICK COATING COOKWARE

How to choose the cookware material

The times when non-stick cookware was worth the recommendations have passed.

A coating that emits harmful gases when it overheats is certainly not the thing that we would like to cook food on.

Yes, today, non-stick cookware has become much safer. But, it did not become multi-purposed.

It is worth having one or two good non-stick pans in the arsenal, for cooking eggs and pancakes, but do not abuse it with using this cookware for cooking dishes that require extremely high temperatures.

CAST IRON COOKWARE

How to choose the cookware material

By the ability to retain heat, no other cookware compares to cast iron. Its specific heat capacity is less than aluminum, but due to its much greater density, with the same thickness of the pan, the ability to retain heat is about 2 times higher, and this is important: the pan doesn’t cool down when you add food to it.

Here’s an example: the surface temperature of a thin aluminum pan can drop by 150 degrees when you put a 200-gram steak on it, while the temperature of the cast iron pan will remain at about the same level if the rest is equal.

In practice, this feature of the metal will help to get a crispy and more evenly fried crust.

Cast iron, by the way, feels great in the oven, so you can use the same cookware for frying on a gas stove, and for baking and stewing in the oven. Due to its ability to retain heat, the surface temperature of the pan always remains at approximately the same level, even when the temperature in your oven fluctuates (and this affects most ovens with a thermostat).

Well, at the very end, let’s talk about durability. Cast iron cookware is one of the few things in the kitchen that only gets better over the years. Over time, the surface of frequently used cast iron cookware becomes smooth and comparable in properties to non-stick Teflon surfaces, only without all these harmful chemical compounds.

Of course, cast-iron cookware also has its drawbacks. Now about them:

  • Food will stick to the surface until a protective layer is formed. This applies even to the so-called “preseasoned” dishes (the one that doesn’t need to be incinerated and prepared for first use). If you use cast-iron dishes daily, then it takes several weeks to form this layer (sufficiently non-stick is good to cook eggs without any problems). Therefore, if you rarely use it, it may take several months.
  • It warms up unevenly. Contrary to the general misconception, cast iron has poor thermal conductivity, which means that heat can’t go far from its source. Try to take a cast-iron frying pan with a diameter of 30 cm and place it on the smallest gas burner, the one used for the cezve: the edges of the pan will never become hot. In order to warm up the cast-iron pan evenly, you need a burner approximately equal in diameter to the pan that you will use. Another way is to preheat cast-iron dishes in the oven, and then move them to the stove.
  • It can rust. As long as a sufficient layer of the protective layer is not formed on the surface, careless use, such as over-tearing the pan or wiping it dry before storage, can lead to rust.
  • You cannot cook too acidic food in it. Sour foods will absorb the flavor and color of cast iron. The color of the food will become dull and dirty, and the taste will be replenished with a metallic smack.
  • It is heavy. Well, there’s nothing you can do. The price of high density and, as a result, heat capacity is a big weight.
  • It requires special care. Since the culinary qualities of cast iron utensils directly depend on the protective layer formed on the surface, you must take care of it when cleaning and washing it in order to avoid accidentally removing this layer. Otherwise, you will have to start all over again.

Now, you know a little more about the different materials of kitchen utensils and their features. There will be no specific conclusion here, but in the next part I will talk about the 8 most necessary items of kitchen utensils, there we will analyze what material and pan should be used.

This article is based on material from the book ‘The Food Lab’.

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Gongbao Chicken (Kung Pao) easy to make step-by-step recipe

Gongbao chicken (or Kung-Pao, although the right variant is Gongbao) it’s a stir-frying dish in the first place. If you’re not familiar with “stir-frying”, I’ll explain in a few words – fast wok frying.

In the future, I’ll prepare some information about wok and how to cook there right. And now, I’ll try to describe shortly, what do you need to know, to cook the dish right.

Before the start, I’d like to clarify two important points.

1. Gongbao is a fried chicken with peanuts and vegetables in the hot sauce. The hotness is a main punch line in the taste. If you’re not the hot fan – do not excel and use this recipe. Firstly -it’ll be a completely different dish, and secondly – it’ll lose the major part of taste.

2. You’ll need a wok. Of course, you can cook on the regular flat frying pan, but the result would be far away from expected. I’ll repeat myself – a wok is really preferable.

What you Need to Cook Gongbao Chicken (Kung Pao)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 600 g chicken breasts
  • 2 + 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 + 2 tsp dry white wine
  • 1 + 1 tsp corn starch
  • 100 g peanuts
  • 0,5 + 0,5 tsp chili flakes or Sichuan pepper (if you’ll find)
  • 3 stalks of spring onion (can be replaced with leeks)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 20-30 g ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3-6 chili peppers depending on size (you can use dry one if you have)
  • Cooking oil

EQUIPMENT:

  • Wok

How to Make Gongbao Chicken (Kung Pao): Step-by-Step Instructions 🔪

STEP 1. MARINATE THE CHICKEN

Dice the chicken (600 g) and put it to the deep bowl.

Dice the chicken for gongbao chicken (kung pao)
Add 2 tsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp of dry white wine on top, and 1 tsp of corn starch.

Leave for 30 minutes at least, but better to marinate for a couple of hours.


STEP 2. PREPARE THE REST OF INGREDIENTS.

When cooking in a wok, you need to remember that in the first place it’s fast frying. So, it means that you need to have all the ingredients at your fingertips and sliced.

Don’t hope that you’ll have time to slice something when you already have some vegetables, meat or other ingredients in the wok. You’ll just burn everything down.

If you’re the authenticity fan, you’ll need to work hard to find the Sichuan pepper. If you’ve done that – great, if no – read more.

I’ve adapted the recipe a bit to our realities and replaced it with regular chili flakes, that you’ll find in every supermarket.

First of all, chop the green part of 3 stalks of spring onion and mix with ½ tbsp of chili flakes, put aside. (if you’re using Sichuan pepper, do the same, but grind in the mortar beforehand). Don’t chop much onion, just 3-4 cm.

By the way, I used leek instead of spring onion.

Chop the spring onion for gongbao chicken (kung pao)

Cut the remaining white part of onion into the 2-3 cm pieces. You can also use leek as I did.

Cut the white part of onion for gongbao chicken (kung pao)
Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic and a piece of ginger (or grate), in order to have 1 tbsp.

Chop 2 cloves of garlic and a piece of ginger for gongbao chicken (kung pao)
Next -chili (3-6 pieces). In the original recipe, we need to use the dry chili, but if you don’t have one, that’s not a problem at all. It’s preferable not to choose long ones – approximately 6-8 cm long.

Take chili peppers for gongbao chicken (kung pao)
I don’t very like chopped chili in this recipe – they give to much hotness. And make impossible to control it while eating (want more – eat a pepper, less – eat a chicken, put the pepper aside). If you’ve bought small peppers, use them whole, just cut off the top, if they’re long cut into 3-4 cm pieces.

If you don’t like hot dishes but somehow you’ve read down here, I’ll give you a piece of advice on how to make it less spicy but at the same time save taste as much as possible. Clear the peppers from the seeds and throw them away (seeds).Cut the peppers into pieces for gongbao chicken (kung pao)

And at last, make a sauce: mix in the glass 2 tsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp of dry white wine, 1 tsp of corn starch, 1 tbsp wine vinegar, and 2 tsp of sugar. Mix until smooth.


STEP 3. FRY!

Heat the wok up (I’ll repeat it a few more times, so get used).

Remember this. If you’re cooking any stir-frying dish at home, it’s highly desirable to fry everything partially to not overload a wok. You may have seen that in some places with wok-menu chefs add the ingredients one by one into the wok and fry them together in the open kitchen. And have you seen the ovens they cook in? It’s important to understand the following: stir-fry is fast high-temperature frying. When you add any products there, the temperature drops. If you add too much at once, the temperature will drop to the level when ingredients aren’t frying, but lose moisture and stew in juices. In this case, you will spend more time cooking, lean meat will become dry, vegetables mild and there would be no crust. You need to remember one rule when cooking at home using wok – fry partially.

Firstly, fry the peanuts (100 g) . Put them into a heated wok without oil. You can use whole ones or chop them with a knife. Fry for a minute or two, constantly stirring.

Fry until there is a nut flavor, but the peanuts aren’t ready yet. Put the nuts into the clean plate, wok put back on the fire.

When it heated, fry the chili peppers with 1 tsp of chili flakes for 20-30 seconds. Then put to the plate with peanuts.

Fry the chili peppers for gongbao chicken (kung pao)
Heat the wok again, add 1 tbsp of oil on the walls, heat until a slight smoke. Place half of the marinated chicken in one layer and don’t touch it for a minute.

Place the marinated chicken in the wok for gongbao chicken (kung pao)

Stir in a minute and cook for another 1-1,5 minutes constantly stirring. Put the chicken in the deep bowl.

Stir the chicken while it's cooking for gongbao chicken (kung pao)
Clean the wok with a paper towel and do the same with the remaining chicken.

Clean the wok again, add 1 tbsp of oil and fry the spring onion (white part) for 1 minute. After that add fried chicken, pepper, and peanuts.

Mix and cook for about 15 seconds in order to warm up all the ingredients evenly. Put the ingredients near the walls to make an empty space in the middle, add there ginger and garlic.

Cook for 15 seconds stirring just them. Then mix all together and add the sauce.

Finely mix the sauce before adding. After that cook for 20-30 seconds constantly stirring until the sauce becomes thicker, cover all ingredients, and add glossy shine.

Add the sauce for gongbao chicken (kung pao)
Put on the serving plates, decorate with chopped spring onion. Serve while hot. As a side dish, you can boil the rice beforehand.

Put the dish on the serving plates for gongbao chicken (kung pao)Serve the gongbao chicken (kung pao)

Gongbao Chicken (Kung Pao)

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Gongbao is a fried chicken with peanuts and vegetables in the hot sauce. The hotness is a main punch line in the taste.
Gongbao Chicken (Kung Pao) easy to make step-by-step recipe
CourseDinner
CuisineChinese
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings2
Calories691kcal

Equipment

  • Wok

Ingredients

  • 600 g chicken breasts
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp dry white wine
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 100 g peanuts
  • 1 tsp chili flakes or Sichuan pepper (if you’ll find)
  • 3 stalks of spring onion (can be replaced with leeks)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 20-30 g ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3-6 chili peppers depending on size (you can use dry one if you have)
  • cooking oil

Instructions

  • Dice the chicken (600 g) and put it to the deep bowl. Add 2 tsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp of dry white wine on top, and 1 tsp of corn starch. Leave for 30 minutes at least.
  • First of all, chop the green part of 3 stalks of spring onion and mix with ½ tbsp of chili flakes, put aside. (if you’re using Sichuan pepper, do the same, but grind in the mortar beforehand). Don’t chop much onion, just 3-4 cm. Cut the remaining white part of onion into the 2-3 cm pieces.
  • Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic and a piece of ginger (or grate), in order to have 1 tbsp.
  • Take 3-6 chilly peppers. If you’ve bought small peppers, use them whole, just cut off the top, if they’re long cut into 3-4 cm pieces.
  • And at last, make a sauce: mix in the glass 2 tsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp of dry white wine, 1 tsp of corn starch, 1 tbsp wine vinegar, and 2 tsp of sugar. Mix until smooth.
  • Heat the wok up. Firstly, fry the peanuts (100 g). Put them into a heated wok without oil. Fry for a minute or two, constantly stirring until there is a nut flavor. Put the nuts into the clean plate.
  • Wok put back on the fire. When it heated, fry the chili peppers with 1 tsp of chili flakes for 20-30 seconds. Then put to the plate with peanuts.
  • Heat the wok again, add 1 tbsp of oil on the walls, heat until a slight smoke. Place half of the marinated chicken in one layer and don’t touch it for a minute. Stir in a minute and cook for another 1-1,5 minutes constantly stirring. Put the chicken in the deep bowl.
  • Clean the wok with a paper towel and do the same with the remaining chicken.
  • Clean the wok again, add 1 tbsp of oil and fry the spring onion (white part) for 1 minute. After that add fried chicken, pepper, and peanuts. Mix and cook for about 15 seconds in order to warm up all the ingredients evenly. Add there ginger and garlic. Cook for 15 seconds stirring just them. Then mix all together.
  • Mix the sauce before adding. After that cook for 20-30 seconds constantly stirring until the sauce becomes thicker, cover all ingredients, and add glossy shine.
  • Put on the serving plates, decorate with chopped spring onion.

Nutrition

Calories: 691kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 79g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 192mg | Sodium: 1052mg | Potassium: 1618mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 765IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @bayevskitchen or tag #bayevskitchen!
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