This delicious Chinese chicken dish that apparently was labeled as politically incorrect during the cultural revolution is known under two names: Kung Pao and Gong Bao Ji Ding. The dish is named after a late Qing Dynasty governor of Sichuan called Ding Baozhen. But why two names of the same dish you may ask. Kung Pao is derived from Ding’s title, Gong Bao, and actually the two names of the dish refer to two different versions: the original Sichuan version (Gong Bao Ji Din) and the American version (Kung Pao chicken).
The most important difference is that the Sichuan version contains Sichuan pepper corns while the American version does not. For many years Sichuan pepper corns were illegal to import into the United States as they were potential carriers of a citrus tree disease. Nowadays there are new ways to process the pepper corns and the ban is abolished. But still the ban is the reson for the two different versions and why the American version doesn’t incorporate Sichuan pepper.
This recipe is my own version, a combination of the two versions. It’s probably not very authentic but it’s very tasty and both me and my husband love it. Add more garlic and pepper if wanted.
Gong Bao Ji Ding or Kung Pao Chicken – my way
(serves 2-3 depending on hunger)
2 tsp sesame oil, for frying
1.5 tsp Sichuan pepper, crushed
1 medium sized dried chili (medium hot), crushed
450 gram chicken thighs (de-boned and skinless)
2 large garlic cloves, finely grated or chopped
0.5 tsp ground ginger
6-8 spring onions
100 gram roasted peanuts
2 tsp soya
1 tsp water
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soya
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp instant concentrated chicken stock
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar
1 small pinch of Maldon sea salt
1 tsp maizena
Cut the chicken in bite size pieces or dices. In a bowl combine chicken with marinade ingredients.
Combine all sauce ingredients in a separate bowl.
Heat 2 tsp of sesame oil in a wok or frying pan on medium heat. Fry the chili and Sichuan peppar for 2 minutes. Increase heat, add chicken and fry until the meat is almost white inside. In the meanwhile, chop the spring onions: discard 1/3 of the green and chop the rest.
Add garlic, ginger and chopped spring onions to the chicken. Stir-fry for a few minutes.
Stir the sauce and pour it into the pan/wok. Stir until the sauce has thickened a bit and then stir in the peanuts. Serve with cooked rice.