Cooking for 1 almost has some stigma to it as ‘lonely’ or ‘sad’ business. In my opinion, you gotta treat yourself – whether you live on your own or your other half is away for a couple of nights. Food for me is so much more than just ‘fuel’. It’s as much a ritual as it is a joyful activity. Having recently found myself moving out in a new country on my own, I’ve kept up this ritual of putting in time and care in my food and continuing to be playful. So, no, cooking for one is most definitely not ‘sad’. And no, you don’t have to have others to entertain to have fun in the kitchen. I really enjoyed this recipe by Felicity Cloake – as it is all those things I enjoy when I cook. It’s playful, it’s fun and it packs a lot of spice and flavour. Serve with rice or noodles on the side and you have the perfect Chinese fakeaway.

I haven’t changed much in the recipe below, apart from using simple rice vinegar as opposed to chianking vinegar. I was tempted to swap the chicken breast for chicken thighs but Felicity warns that breast cooks quicker and therefore it’s easier to manage in a stir fry. I’d definitely recommend checking Felicity’s full recipe from Feast (link below) as she’s added quite a lot of info on the ingredients and method for the perfect Kung Pao Chicken!

More for 1: Anna Jones’ Aglio, olio e peperoncino with greens | Kimchi omelette sandwich | Apple, Pear and Turmeric Smoothie

Kung Pao Chicken

Serves 1 | Prep 10 mins | Cook 5 mins
Easy | Dairy-free

You’ll need

  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 150g);
  • 1 tsp cornflour;
  • 1 tsp cold water;
  • ½ tsp light soy sauce;
  • ½ tsp Shaoxing rice wine, or dry sherry;
  • 6 whole dried chillies;
  • 3 spring onions;
  • 2 garlic cloves;
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger;
  • 1½ tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 30g roasted peanuts or cashews

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp dark soy sauce
  • ¾ tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp cornflour  mixed with 1 tbsp cold water

Cut the chicken into roughly 1cm dice. In a bowl, mix the teaspoon of cornflour with the teaspoon of water, to make a rough paste, then stir in the light soy sauce and rice wine. Add the chicken and toss to coat.

Cut the chillies in half lengthways, then shake out and discard the seeds (if they are very hot, you may wish to reduce the number of chillies.) Slice the spring onions into roughly 1cm chunks, and separate the white and green parts. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and ginger.

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl, and set this near the stove, along with the chillies and peppercorns, the chicken, garlic, ginger, the whites of the spring onions, and the peanuts and spring onion greens.

Heat a wok, then add the oil, peppercorns and chillies, and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until just coloured all over, then tip in the garlic, ginger and spring onion whites and continue to stir-fry until the chicken is just cooked through – take care to keep everything moving so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Give the sauce a whisk, then pour it into the wok and leave it to bubble away until it’s thickened sufficiently to coat the chicken. Add the nuts and spring onion greens, toss everything together and eat immediately.

Original recipe by Felicity Cloake in Feast, available online here.