John McLeay’s Kung Pao chicken and bacon

By Chef John McLeay



  • 300g chicken thigh, skinless and boneless
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • 200g Australian bacon lardons
  • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 50ml chicken stock or water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 100g cashew nuts, roasted
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns, finely ground
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 10 small dried red chillies


  1. 1.
    Cut the chicken thigh into medium dice and coat with tapioca starch.
  2. 2.
    In a wok heat the vegetable oil when the wok starts to smoke add the chicken cook for 1 minute then add the sliced onions and the bacon, dried chillies and the garlic.
  3. 3.
    Cook while stirring for a further 1 minute, check to see if the chicken is cooked through. If not continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through.
  4. 4.
    Add the cashews, soy sauces, stock, black vinegar, rice wine, sesame oil and the Szechuan pepper and cook for a further minute while stirring.
  5. 5.
    Add the spring onion, saving some for the garnish and spoon into a serving bowl.
  6. 6.
    Serves 4 as part of a shared meal.