Adventures in Szechuan Cuisine.
Gong Bao Chicken, more familiarly known in the west as Kung Pao Chicken, is the essence of Szechuanese flavor and spirit. Hot, sweet, sour, spicy, nutty, laced with the tingly flavor of Szechuan pepper, and glazed with a deep amber lacquer like sweet and sour sauce.
The following recipe is adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe in her wonderful cookbook; Land of Plenty.
Gong Bao Chicken serves 2-4
As mentioned in previous stir fry recipes, prepare and arrange all of your ingredients in the order of their addition to the stir fry before you begin cooking.
For the marinade:
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Shoaxing cooking wine (or dry sherry)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 plump chicken breasts, skin on and cut into small cubes
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a shallow bowl and stir to combine. Add the diced chicken to the marinade and mix until the chicken is evenly coated and set aside to add to the stir fry later.
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or unrefined sugar)
- 1 1/8 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon water
Mix the sauce ingredients together in another bowl and set aside to add to the stir fry later.
For the stir fry:
- 2 tablespoons cold pressed peanut oil
- 6-10 dried red chilies, seeded and cut across into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon whole Szechuan peppercorns
- marinated chicken
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely minced
- an equal amount of fresh ginger root, peeled and coarsely minced
- 5 spring onions, white parts only, diced
- the sauce
- 2 ¾ oz/75g roasted peanuts
Step 1: Place a wok over medium high heat and add the peanut oil and wait until the oil is hot, but not smoking.
Step 2: Promptly add the dried chiles and the Szechuan peppercorns and toss briskly until the chilies begin to crisp up and the peppercorns are fragrant; about 1 to 1 ½ minutes.
Step 3: Add the marinated chicken to the wok and begin stirring and tossing the chicken with the chiles and peppercorns until the chicken begins to firm up and lightly colored; about 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 4: Promptly add the garlic, onions, and ginger and stir fry until the chicken is fully cooked; about 2 minutes.
Step 5: give the sauce a quick stir and add it to the wok. Stir and toss the sauce into the stir fry briskly until it thickens; about 1 ½ minutes. Then promptly add the roasted peanuts and toss until well glazed and incorporated into the stir fry.
Serving: Serve promptly with accompanying steamed rice.