Gadget Chef: Pressure Cooker Kung Pao

Lighter than the original, but still pretty tasty

My father got me an electric pressure cooker for Christmas, and I've been playing with it a bit. Last night I tried pressure cooker Kung Pao chicken, prompting a twitter request for the recipe.

Well, here goes. This is a work-in-progress; it didn't come out just as I wanted. The object was to produce a lighter Kung Pao than the original, which usually deep fries the chicken and then covers it in a sugary sauce. I substituted molasses for the sugar and cut the amount of sweetener in half, and pressure cooked the chicken to infuse flavor without fat.

I succeeded on the "lighter" side, and the husband liked it pretty well. The meat is soft, rather than firm like a traditional kung pao, but it has a lot of flavor to make up for the missing fat and sugar. Nonetheless, we both agreed that we'd like more flavor still. The recipe that follows is what I'll do next time.

The equipment:

1 Pressure cooker

1 Skillet or saute pan

The recipe:

For the chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup sherry or rice wine

1/2 cup chicken broth

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

Daily Digest

Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast.

Cheat Sheet

A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don't).

By clicking “Subscribe,” you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason.

2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger (or you can cheat and use the stuff from the tubes)

3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

2 tablespoons butter or oil

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon butter or oil

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon molasses

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp sesame oil

3 tsp cornstarch

5-8 dried red chili peppers

2 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed

1 green onion, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces.

1 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts (without skins)

Put the pressure cooker on saute mode or heat over medium-high heat. Mix soy suace, sherry, and chicken broth in a cup; set aside. Heat fat until it's crackling, and add garlic and ginger. Stir for one minute. Add chicken breasts and saute until golden brown, three to five minutes on a side. Add liquids to pressure cooker, close lid, and bring up to pressure. Cook eight minutes.

Meanwhile, in your frying pan, saute garlic and peppers in remaining fat over medium-high heat for a minute or so. Add peanuts and green onions and cook for about three minutes, until green onions have softened a bit. Remove from heat.

When pressure cooker is finished, allow the pressure to release naturally. If you are using a manual model, that means you remove it from the heat. If you are using an electric model, you'll need to actually unplug it. Either way, wait until the pressure has released (12-15 minutes) and remove the lid.

Fish the chicken out of the liquid and put it on a platter. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces.

Mix soy sauce, molasses, broth, salt, and sesame oil together, along with 1-2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Discard the remaining cooking liquid. Whisk in corn starch after other ingredients. Heat frying pan over medium heat, then add the broth/soy mixture. Cook until liquid firms up into a thick sauce. Add chicken pieces. Serve with steamed broccoli and rice.

As I say, a work in progress. Feel free to add tips.