Kung Pao chickenis a classic dish in Szechuan cuisine, originating in the Sichuan Province of central-western China. The dish is named after Ding Baozhen (1820–1886), a late Qing Dynasty official.Ding served as governor of Sichuan province. His title was Gōng Bǎo (宮保), or palatial guardian. The name “Kung Pao” chicken is derived from this title. And now it is very popular in the US and is on the menu of most Chinese restaurants.
Its origin is from Sichuan, but has taken on some slight variations through the years. Apart from dried red chilies or dried chili peppers which must be present, the dish can be prepared with peanuts or cashew nuts; spring onions (scallions); bombay onion (brown onion), and vegetables such as green peppers and okra. It’s all up to individual preference – as long as the, distinct feature of this cuisine – the hot, sour and sweet taste is not compromised.
Cooking wine is also an essential ingredient for this dish. The common wine used is glutinous rice wine. The closest substitute for it is dry sherry.
Gong Bao Chicken is really fairly quick and easy to prepare and I hope that with these step-by-step instructions and lovely images, everyone who wants to taste this dish, can cook it at home. You can also cook Gong Bao Beef, Gong Bao Shrimps and Gong Bao Fish Meat Slices, following the same ingredients and cooking method in this recipe.
350g chicken breasts
12 dried red chillies/dried chili peppers
1 bombay onion /brown onion
40g/2Tbsp cashew nuts or peanuts (optional)
2 or 3 cloves garlic – minced
3 thin slices ginger – shredded
½ egg white – lightly beaten
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup cooking oil
Marinating Ingredients for chicken:
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cooking wine
Seasoning Ingredients (mix together for sauce):
½ tsp cooking wine
¾ Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp water
1.Cut the chicken into bite-sized cubes and marinate with the marinating ingredients.
2.Cut dried chillies into 2cm/0.8in lengths, shake off as much seeds as possible*, then wash and soak them for 30 minutes or till soft. Drain.
3.Wash and take out outer skin of bombay/brown onion and cut them cross-sectionally into 8 sections (6 if onion small). Loosen the sections roughly.
4.Rinse cashew nuts and drain off excess water.
1.First, the cashew nuts are fried by putting them in cold oil. Keep turning them as the oil gets hotter and to ensure even browning. Scoop up when they turn golden brown. If using peanuts, have them roasted beforehand.
2.Next, we fry the chicken. Mix the chicken pieces with the egg white. Add in the cornstarch and mix thoroughly. When the oil is ready, (use the chopsticks test)* put all the chicken in. (The oil is sufficient for shallow frying; if deep frying is preferred more oil is needed). Spread them out and let fry for 2 or 3 minutes before turning over to fry the other side. If deep frying, keep on turning till chicken browns. Dish out and drain excess oil.
3. Heat wok and put in 1Tablespoon of oil (may use the excess oil from frying the chicken), put in the garlic and ginger to fry for a few seconds. Then add the softened dried chillies and stir-fry for a minute or two.
4.Now add in the bombay/brown onion and continue to stir-fry for a short while.
5.Next, we put in the seasoning sauce, chicken and cashew nuts or peanuts and mix thoroughly.
6.Turn off heat as soon as it is well mixed. There should not be a lot of sauce/gravy – just a wee bit – just enough for the chicken pieces to be coated with it.