Kung Pao Chicken ~ Helen Chen's

This is Helen Chen's version of Kung Pao Chicken, and it is very good.

Helen was born in Shanghai and raised in Boston where she was taught simple, home-style food from their homeland. You may know that Helen's mother is Joyce Chen, founder of the cookware company with the same name.

Of the several Chinese cookbooks I have, Helen's is one of my favorites because it is actually designed for the home cook, family recipes passed down from one generation to the next.

 (Click image to learn more.)

A few other Chinese cookbooks that I have are based on restaurant recipes, just scaled down for the home cook. I prefer this book because the recipes are easily doable at home, no double-frying or oil blanching, yet the results are quite authentic.

This version of Kung Pao chicken was a big success at my house. I like that you can control the quality of ingredients and the amount of oil (and seasonings) that go into the dish. Instead of the dried red chilies usually found in this dish I used fresh red Thai chilis from the garden to provide the heat ~ they worked out perfectly and I like the look of fresh, too.

Some versions of Kung Pao Chicken include water chestnuts and bamboo shoots, and by all means include them if you like.

Helen's recipe doesn't call for them, and I really didn't think I needed them since I served them with . . .

. . . a quick stir-fry of vegetables, mostly from our garden.

And to make the meal a little lighter, I skipped the steamed rice this time and served the chicken and vegetables on raw, thinly sliced cabbage instead. It added an interesting texture contrast ~ and we didn't miss the rice at all.

We rated this dish 5 out of 5 stars, and this will be my "go to" recipe for Kung Pao Chicken from now on.

If you would like a printable copy of the Kung Pao Chicken recipe you'll find it on the Once a Plate Recipe blog ~ click HERE.


I don't have many of Joyce Chen's products, a few bamboo products, and some steamer baskets.  But hands down, my favorite product of hers are her Universal Kitchen Scissors, I've used them for years.

Besides red, they also are available in white, blue and yellow.

These scissors will amaze you ~ they are compact but mighty, the finger and thumb loops are flexible so they are kind to your hands and fingers. It doesn't take much effort to cut right through raw chicken bones (really---thigh and leg bones, too!)

Very sharp and efficient, I keep a couple of pairs in the house. They are the perfect size for snipping flowers & herbs from the garden, and also snipping the herbs right into the pot or dish you're preparing.

Great for cutting twine, ribbon, trimming flowers for the vase (and thorns from rose stems.) I also use them for cutting the thorny tips from artichokes before cooking, cutting lobster and crab shells, etc. for any job that kitchen shears do. They are just the right size for sewing or craft box, and they work equally well for right or left-handers.

Priced at under $20. they make a nice gift for any cook or gardener you may know. I've given several out as gifts through the years ~ everybody loves them!

Thanks for stopping by today friends, I love it when you leave me comments so I know you've visited.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! xo~Mari


  1. Absolutely LOVE the tip about the kitchen shears. Your chicken looks great. Did not know Joyce's mother had a cookbook. Another valuable bit of info. Thanks. Susan

  2. I have read the raving reviews of the Joyce Chen scissors for years. Everyone loves them. I guess I need to find a pair for my kitchen - I saw them recently in a catalog or online....

    As for that yummy recipe, thank you! Looks really wonderful with all those fabulous veggies. Yum-yum!

    Have a great weekend!

  3. oh, wow, one of my favorite dishes! thank you for the pics and the link!!

  4. Looks like another cookbook is needed at my house. This looks wonderful.

  5. Looks delicious. Kung Pao chicken is my favorite dish to order out. I'd love to be able to make it at home.

  6. Une cuisine certainement pleine de saveurs et des couleurs qui vous donnent l'eau à la bouche.
    gros bisous

  7. Oh my goodness, Mari! That first photo, with all the beautifully diagonal cut items just made me gasp, truly. I want to come sit beside you & watch you work...both in the kitchen & with your camera. The lighting you achieve blows me away!

    I can't wait to try this, as our garden has produced LOTS of red & green peppers & onions. I'm making sweet Italian sausages in hoagie buns with onions & peppers tonight, just to use some of them up.
    Thanks for the recipe & info on the scissors, too.


  8. Looks yummy..You are the one that clued me into her:)
    Thanks..have a great weekend~

  9. I am in the mood for something lighter tonight for dinner and this fits the bill perfectly.

  10. This looks excellent, I just went over and saved this! Thanks!

  11. Have yet to find a Kung Pao that tastes like my favorite restaurant version. Looking forward to trying yours.

  12. This sounds like a great Kung Pao recipe and it has a ton of flavor here. I like that it uses cornstarch so the sauce really thickens and coats the chicken - yum!


Thank you for your comments, friends ~ they make my day!

A Sampling of my food . . .


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