Kung Pao Chicken (or Gong Baogōng bǎo jī dīng 宫保鸡丁) is a typical traditional Sichuan dish made with diced chicken, peanuts and chilli pepper. It was named after a court official Ding Baozhen in the late Qing dynasty (1616-1911). Legend has it that Mr. Ding was a gourmet, relishing ‘stir-fried diced chicken’ in particular. While he served as governor in Shandong and Sichuan, he often treated his guests to this dish. While in Sichuan, where the local people liked hot chillies, Ding improved his favourite dish ‘stir-fried diced chicken’ by adding chilli pepper to the ingredients. As a result, the dish with its spicy flavour tastes more delicious. Since Ding was later granted the title Taizi Shaobao, which literally means ‘protector of the crown prince’, by the imperial court, he was also referred to as Kung Pao, which was short for Taizi Shaobao. In memory of Mr. Ding Baozhen, people named his favourite dish Kung Pao Chicken. Here is a simple tasty version of the recipe (not my picture):
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons spring onions, chopped with tops
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4-1 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilli flakes ( to your own taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger ( can use fresh grated if preferred)
- 4 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
- 4 cups rice
Combine chicken and cornflour in a small bowl and toss to coat.
Heat oil in a wok on medium heat. Add chicken. Stir fry 5- 7 minutes or until no longer pink in centre. Remove from heat.
Add onions, garlic, chilli and ginger to the wok. Stir fry 15 seconds. Remove from heat.
Combine rice wine, soy sauce and sugar in small bowl. Stir well. Add to the wok. Return chicken to the wok. Stir until chicken is well coated. Stir in nuts. Heat thoroughly, stirring occasionally.
Serve with rice.