Have two Chinese-style culinary siblings, Kung Pao chicken and Mongolian chicken, left you confused? And, now you’re wondering whether they’re alike?
Let’s untangle the mystery and explore the key differences and similarities between these savory dishes in this quick but well-researched blog post.
Key Difference Between Kung Pao Chicken and Mongolian Chicken
Mongolian Chicken and Kung Pao Chicken may both be chicken-based, but their sauce makes the difference.
Mongolian Chicken boasts a rich, dark, sweet, and savory soy-based sauce featuring thinly sliced chicken stir-fried with onions and bell peppers. In contrast, Kung Pao Chicken packs a spicy punch with diced chicken, peanuts, and a robust sauce featuring soy sauce, vinegar, chili peppers, and Sichuan peppercorns.
Here is a table offering an overview of the key differences between Mongolian chicken and Kung Pao chicken:
|Feature||Mongolian chicken||Mongolian Chicken|
|Kung Pao Chicken||Soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and brown sugar||Soy sauce, vinegar, chili peppers, and Sichuan peppercorns|
|Vegetables||Onions, bell peppers, and scallions||Peanuts, vegetables|
|Sauce||Sweet and savory||Spicy and savory|
Mongolian chicken, believed to have originated in the United States, not Mongolia, in the mid-20th century, is a delectable stir-fry featuring thinly sliced chicken cooked with scallions, garlic, and ginger. The magic happens when the tender chicken is bathed in a savory, sweet soy-based sauce. The dark sauce is simple and only includes a few ingredients, like soy sauce and dark brown sauce.
Kung Pao Chicken, believed to have originated in Sichuan Province, China, in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), is a spicy and flavorful Sichuan dish. It typically stars diced chicken, peanuts, and vegetables in a robust sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and a generous kick from red chili peppers. This dish is known for its bold and zesty flavor profile.
Mongolian Chicken vs. Kung Pao Chicken–Detailed Difference
Mongolian chicken, despite having a name like “Mongolian,” not truly a traditional Chinese recipe, likely originated in the mid-20th century in the United States. It was inspired by dishes like General Tso’s chicken.
In contrast, Kung Pao chicken is traced back to Sichuan Province, China, during the Qing Dynasty. It’s named after Ding Baozhen, a governor who supposedly had the dish crafted by his chefs.
Mongolian chicken primarily features chicken, scallions, garlic, and ginger in a soy-based sauce.
With more complexity, Kung Pao chicken incorporates diced chicken, peanuts, and vegetables in a sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and red chili peppers.
3. Flavor Profile
Mongolian chicken exhibits a sweet and savory flavor profile owing to its soy-based sauce with a hint of sweetness. Yet, Kung Pao chicken takes a spicier route with a bold combination of soy sauce, vinegar, and the fiery heat of red chili peppers.
4. Heat Level
Mongolian chicken is milder, focusing on the sauce’s sweetness rather than intense spiciness. Contrarily, Kung Pao chicken is Known for its bold spiciness, thanks to the inclusion of red chili peppers, creating a dish with a noticeable kick.
Few Similarities Between Kung Pao Chicken and Mongolian Chicken
1. Chicken Base
Both dishes share a common foundation – chicken. They use thinly sliced or diced chicken as the primary protein source.
2. Stir-Fry Technique
Mongolian chicken and Kung Pao chicken are both stir-fried, unlike General Tso’s, which is deep-fried. Both showcase the culinary prowess of Chinese cuisine in creating quick, flavorful dishes.
3. Asian Influence
Both dishes draw inspiration from traditional Chinese culinary techniques, showcasing the rich tapestry of flavors that define Asian cuisine.
Chinese-style chicken dishes, Mongolian chicken, and Kung Pao chicken stand out as distinct culinary delights. While Mongolian chicken charms with its sweet and savory notes, Kung Pao chicken takes a bolder, spicier path. Whether you prefer a milder or a more fiery experience, these dishes offer a tantalizing eating experience.