Chinese takeout favorite Hunan Chicken is an easy classic Chinese stir-fry dish with garlic, ginger, broccoli, bamboo shoots and mushrooms in a garlic and ginger spicy stir fry sauce.
Hunan Chicken Recipe
When you tell someone you are going to make Hunan Chicken you may get a confused look. Most people are not familiar with the name of the dish, but if they were to eat it they’d recognize the flavors immediately. This is your classic Chinese Chicken Stir-Fry dish. And it’s done in less than 30 minutes.
We use chicken breast in this dish because it cooks so quickly that the chicken stays tender. I don’t generally use white meat in Chinese food recipes with the exception of noodles or stir-fries. Anything battered and fried is always dark meat chicken unless you’re making Sweet and Sour Chicken which has long been seen as the “healthy” version of Chinese fried chicken recipes.
How to cut chicken thinly:
One of the traditional takeout things about chicken stir fries is how they have chicken that looks like it was almost shaved, similar to Mongolian Beef in restaurants. The trick to this is to freeze the chicken for about one hour. Once you do you can very easily slice the chicken very thinly against the grain. Since the slices are so thin you’ll find that even though it was in the freezer, it will come back to a good cooking temperature very quickly.
What is in Chinese Hunan Sauce:
Hunan sauce is made of rice wine vinegar, sugar, chili paste and an oyster and soy sauce based sauce that is made in just minutes. Chicken broth adds some bulk to the sauce and cornstarch helps to thicken the mixture quickly.
Hunan Chicken, while popular, is sometimes just categorized as a Chinese Chicken Stir Fry as the sauce is very similar to most peoples classic stir fries. Because of that it often gets overlooked for more popular items on a Chinese restaurant’s menu. Let’s examine the two other recipes it most often gets mistaken for:
Hunan Chicken vs. Szechuan Chicken
Hunan chicken is a stir-fried dish that is just coated in a dusting of cornstarch with a spicy chili paste sauce coating a mixture of vegetables. Szechuan Chicken is generally battered and fried before being added to a pan of stir fried vegetables and coated in a much sweeter sauce than Hunan chicken.
Hunan Chicken vs General Tso’s Chicken
Hunan chicken is a stir fried dish with vegetables and a much lighter sauce that is spicy and made with oyster sauce. General Tso’s Chicken is a delicious but battered and fried dish similar to orange chicken with is tossed in a very sweet but slightly spicy sauce, normally with no vegetables.
Easy Chinese Stir-Fry Recipe
Many people think of easy stir-fries and even buy “stir fry” sauces that are pre-made. When I had clients who would ask for a chicken stir fry this Hunan Chicken Recipe is the one I would use. You can adjust the heat more or less to your tastes by the amount of chili paste you add to the dish, but the mixture of broth, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar and a touch a sugar are the classic ingredients in a Chinese stir fry.
The stir-fry sauce is so versatile it can be used with chicken, beef, pork, tofu, shrimp, scallops and most fish including salmon, and sea bass. You can make the sauce in larger quantities and freeze in portions as well. Ice cube trays are a great option, 6 standard cubes is plenty for a recipe and the garlic and ginger can be added to the sauce mixture to make cooking even easier when you’re ready for the sauce.
Want more Chinese Food Recipes?
- Crispy Sesame Chicken
- Orange Chicken
- Chinese Honey Chicken
- Easy Mongolian Beef
- Panda Express Recipes… every single one in fact: Panda Express Recipes Index
- Many more Chinese food options…
- 1 pound chicken breasts shaved thinly
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced
- 1 green zucchini cut into half moon shapes
- 4 ounces mushrooms sliced thinly
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1 can bamboo shoots drained
- Add the chicken and cornstarch in a large ziplock bag with air in the bag, closed tightly.
- Shake the bag until the chicken is well coated.
- Add the canola oil to the pan on medium-high heat and cook the chicken until cooked through on both sides, about 2-3 minutes on each side.
- In a small bowl mix the sauce ingredients together.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and add in the garlic, ginger, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli and bamboo shoots.
- Stir, cooking for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the sauce and chicken and toss to coat, cooking 1-2 more minutes until the sauce has thickened.