Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gong Bao Chicken 宮保雞丁

Gong bao chicken (宮保雞丁, pronouced gong bao ji ding) also known as kung pao chicken, chicken with cashew nuts, no.125 or no.22 depending on which restaurant you are visiting. It has been bastardised and popularised together with the likes of lemon chicken and beef in black bean sauce for many years. Thanks to the demands for authentic Sichuanese food, it is possible to find good gong bao chicken in Melbourne these days. This is quite a dry dish; the sauce is just enough to coat every single piece of ingredients but if you want a wetter dish do double the amount of sauce. This is a simple yet complex dish. It is spicy and numbing  (麻辣,ma la) from the dried chilies and Sichuan peppercorns, sweet and sour (酸甜,suang tian) from the black vinegar and sugar, the contrast between the tender chicken pieces and crunchy nuts, so why change something that is already this good?
P.S This posting is possible thanks to the internet cafe.

recipe adapted from Fucshia Dunlop's Sichuan Cookery
serves 4 as part of a Chinese meal
you'll need;
2 skinless chicken breasts (600 g), cut into 1.5 cm cubes*
5 cm knob of ginger, sliced thinly
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp of sichuan peppercorns (川椒)
20 dried chillies**, snipped
5 spring onions (white parts only), cut to lengths the size of the diameter
a large handful of cashew nuts or peanuts***
* marinate chicken with a dash of soy, salt, Chinese cooking wine and corn flour.
** adjust the quantity accordingly.
*** I am not a big fan of whole peanuts so cashew was a perfect replacement.

for the sauce;
3 tbs of sugar
1 tbs of dark soy
1 tbs of ligh soy
3 tbs of Chinkiang black vinegar (鎮江香醋)
1 tbs of sesame oil
2 tbs of chicken stock or water
3/4 tbs of cornflour

Prepare the ingredients.

I pan fried the chicken pieces very briefly on high heat. If you have a very powerful stove you may skip this otherwise it is going to create the "wok chi" effect for the finished dish.

Heat up some cooking oil in a hot wok and fry the dried chillies and sichuan peppercorns for 30 seconds, be very careful not to burn the spices. Add in the aromatics immediately and fry for a further 30 seconds.

Return the chicken pieces and cook for a further 30 seconds on high heat.

Finally pour in the sauce mixture and mix well. Turn off heat as soon as the sauce has thicken.

Serve immediately as part of a Chinese meal.


  1. looks like a much better version than I have ever seen around here....thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Sounds delicious...I like how you used cashews....hope your internt connection gets fixed soon.

  3. Looks delish...goes to must try list.

  4. Harriet from CarltonJune 10, 2010 at 9:02 PM

    Mmmm I must stop ordering no.158 from my local Chinese. Looks great dear!

  5. Hey darling this is better than any I have tasted. Only 20 chillies? That is not very you hehe!

    Sophia xxx

  6. always I make sure i come here on a full stomach....I must try this ..m not a big fan of peanuts either but cahsews are heaven sent to me. must try must try

  7. Oh btw would any vinegar do in place of the black vinegar? or does that black vinegar have a very characteristc taste tt wld make the dish a poor imitation if I didnt use it?

  8. "only" 20 chillies?..woho..banyak tu...I must try this recipe but less chillies.Thanks Tummy:)

  9. Lol at no.125 and no.22 :) This is indeed much better than any version I have had.

  10. Yeees, chicken with nuts is a great combo!!

  11. Oh I love this dish... or rather am guilty of loving the no.58 lol
    This looks good and I am going to try this out!

  12. hi tummy..another great dish from you..thanks for sharing..i must try this too..

  13. My favourite chicken dish! Your take looks absolutely mouthwatering.

  14. This is great but I might have to cut down on the amount of dried chilies in mine. I am really enjoying your Chinese week!

  15. That is true dedication; you did this post from an internet cafe? I find that even more amazing than the food.

  16. Very delicious! Really makes me mouthwatering, I must come to your house tomorrow ;DD

  17. This is my favorite chicken dish and I like mine with peanuts. I am glad there are good Chinese food to be found these days.

  18. This looks so good!! I haven't had Chinese food. This weekend it's on my list!

  19. I am not going to order no.67 from now on hehe. Good to know what the real deal is all about, thanks buddy!

  20. wow, another wonderful chicken dish from you! The sauce looks so scrumptious!

  21. It sure looks authentic. I prefer cashew in mine too!

  22. This looks so good! I love the way you explained it all! Thanks for doing that! Yummy!

  23. 好正宗的宮保雞丁呀!再加碗白飯!哈哈!

  24. Chef Dennis ,
    Thank you very much! :)

    Bo ,
    Thank you! Me too!

    Jay ,
    Thank you very much!

    haha you will once you have tasted this! :)

    Sophia darling,
    One of us don't really like spicy food so I cut down on the quantity! xxx

    zurin ,
    Thank you very much! I am glad you feel the same about peanuts :)
    The black vinegar is essential for this dish although I used balsamic vinegar as a substitute once and it worked out well. The taste of balsamic is very similar to Chinese black vinegar.

    makcikmanggis ,
    Haha saya buang bijihnya. Less chili will still be delicious!

    Priya ,
    Thank you very much!

    darren ,
    haha thank you very much!

    Adventures in Domestic Cooking,
    Thank you!

    the lacquer spoon ,
    Indeed! Indeed! :)

    rosa ,
    Thank you very much! You won't look back!

    Terima kasih makcik! Cubalah!

    Thank you shaz!

    love to eat,
    Thank you very much! :)

    Thank you! I just have so many recipes I wanted to share. They are all done just need to click on publish :)

    Anncoo ,
    Thank you very much! You didn;t turn up lol

    little panda ,
    Thank you! Not too spicy, just nice!

    Thank you very much!

    pigpigscorner ,
    With lots of rice!

    thank you very much!

    Thank you! Me too!

    Michael Rivers,
    Thank you! I hope you will find a good one!

    Thanks buddy! I hope it is better than your no.67!

    Thank you very much!

    LMH ,
    Thank you very much!

    Lyndsey ,
    Thank you! I am glad you find the explanations helpful :)


  25. Chicken with dry chilli/kung pao chicken has always been a favourite of ours unfortunately the amount of chicken in the dish has dwindled over the years and has been very unsatisfying.
    I made this tonight and it was fantastic, your blog is now in my bookmarks and I will be trying many of your recipes.


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