Gong Bao Ji Ding (Gong Bao Chicken)

By • February 3, 2011 • 75 Comments


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Author Notes: A perfect Gongbaijiding 宫保鸡丁, has different components to be labeled delicious: the tenderness of the chicken with the right amount of peanuts, the savory thick sauce that spoons off with the meat, the flavor that holds the perfect balance of salty, slightly sour, with a kick of numbing spiciness and the aroma of garlic and ginger.
* I prefer using chicken thighs, for more flavors, though chicken breast is almost just as good. - FrancisRenHuang
FrancesRenHuang

Food52 Review: Tender morsels of chicken eagerly soak up FrancesRenHuang's fragrant, velvety sauce in what is a remarkably quick and forgiving recipe. If you can't find Sichuan peppercorns, don't sweat it (you'll just miss out on their mysteriously addictive numbing quality). Use any small, dried red chiles that suit you. And customize at will, by adding sliced mushrooms, water chestnuts, or diced celery to the stir-fry. Lastly, to those with healthy appetites: Double this recipe! Your guests will praise you. - A&MA&M

Serves 3~4

Tenderizing the Meat

  • 2 chicken thighs, deboned and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (if yours are tiny, you may want to throw in 1-2 more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon beaten egg
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon chinese cooking wine

Stir-Frying

  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chinese dark vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons of water or stock
  • 1 generous handful of peanuts
  • 2 green onions, chopped into 1-inch lengths
  • 4 garlic cloves, skin removed, smashed and chopped
  • 6 slices of ginger
  • 8 red dried chiles, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  1. Mix together the marination with the meat; set aside while preparing the rest. *Can put in fridge for the day.
  2. Mix the liquid ingredients, brown sugar and corn starch and set aside to use as the sauce for stir-frying. Heat up wok with vegetable oil until shimmering and hot, about 120 F.
  3. Dip half of the meat into the oil and move around until half-cooked, around 2 minutes; remove with slotted spoon and drain from oil. Repeat for the other half.
  4. Drain off all but 2 tbsp of oil in heated wok, throw in chiles, peppercorns, garlic, ginger and spring onion; stir-fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes; add peanuts and stir-fry for another 1~2 min.
  5. Add chicken cubes, stir-fry for about 3 minutes, or until chicken is cooked.
  6. Pour on reserved sauce and simmer until the dish thickens, about 3 minutes.
  7. Garnish with ground Sichuan peppercorn; serve with rice.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!

Tags: chicken, chinese, chinese, savory, savory

Comments (75) Questions (6)

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18 days ago Mary b

We loved this...especially the burn afterwards! Quick, easy and delicious.

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4 months ago Elizabeth Star

I tried this recipe and think it is a wonderful way to tenderize chicken. I did pulverize the sichuan peppercorns in a mortar, but it made the dish taste like it had sand in it. Next time I will try the whole peppercorns. Way too much oil for my taste, sauce was mediocre, the best part was the way to tenderize the chicken.

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4 months ago michelle_brown

This recipe is the best yet. I love the peppercorns and the sauce is perfect. I add a little bit of vegetables.

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6 months ago pokolik

This has been my favorite Chinese dish since I lived in China, long ago. After some years of recipe research and practice, I can say this is one of the most authentic I've seen online. If you could just add a good tablespoon of doubanjiang (the spicy fermented bean paste) right after chilis and garlic, that would make it near perfect. A tablespoon of sesame oil mixed in right at the end and chopped green scallion leaves sprinkled on top: total pleasure. To get the crunch out of the peanuts, I recommend buying them raw, then peeling and roasting them with a bit of oil on a slow fire.

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6 months ago Megha

I made this tonight, followed recipe except i omitted the Sichuan peppercorns and peanuts (never been a huge fan of either)..absolutely amazing! The best stirfry i have made to date. Loved how tender the chicken was. Thank you for a lovely recipe :)

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8 months ago Kitchen Butterfly

STUNNING. Made this for lunch - the technique of marinating the chicken will now be part of my essential prep for chicken and beef. I've done it occasionally....but hence forth, it shall be ESSENTIAL. Thanks for a great dish. Truly delicious

Lil_piggy

10 months ago DanaYares

I added a little black bean sauce to the meat and it was great!

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10 months ago havefaith

Would be nice to have a weight of chicken as not all chickens are created equal. :)

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12 months ago Trena

My family absolutely loves this dish! I took AntoniaJames advice and now crush the Sichuan peppercorns with a mortar and pestle and push through a fine sieve for a less assertive flavor. Additionally, I now use the meat tenderizing technique offered in this recipe for all of my chicken stir fry recipes. Great tip!

Stringio

12 months ago Lilismom

Are the peanuts salted or not? This looks wonderful!

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6 months ago pokolik

Unsalted. Buy them raw if you can, peel them and roast them with a bit of oil on a slow fire.

Stringio

about 1 year ago Jeremy Bernozzi

Got a BURNING QUESTION!! What on earth is the green vegetable they use for this dish in Sichuan? Not celery, not green pepper, but tastes a little like both, but with a rich, zesty broccoli flavor. I have yet to see an english recipe that includes this wonder-vegetable, sadly. Also, just an observation: I'd never once encountered ground hua jiao (peppercorns) in any gong bao ji ding; they were always fried with the other aromatics in the oil-and of course, some places would just have a bottle of "hua jiao you" (oil) handy. I ate (and watched) this all the time, while living in Chengdu for a year. Now, I know--its not "really" a Sichuanese dish, but it has come to have many sichuanese add-ons, and there are as many variatons as a Thanksgiving turkey.

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about 1 year ago FrancesRenHuang

Is it chinese broccoli? :)

Stringio

about 1 year ago Jeremy Bernozzi

No, I'd seen it in Chengdu a lot, and finally found it here in Boston, and it was the right one!! I just made it tonight. Can't find the name! It looks sort of like a giant green, conical asparagus with the leaves plucked. There is a peel that is a bit fibrous, that you shave off, and inside its an emerald green thing that they cube, along with green onions, chicken, etc. I've been wondering what it was for 3 years. Highly recommend it. The rest of the recipe was great, btw! Brought back memories.

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about 1 year ago FrancesRenHuang

I know what you are talking about and I love it as well- make it as a chinese cold dish. Yes, you are also right. You can omit the sichuan pepper powder if you have a very good authentic sichuan peppers to start with, or even the oil. :) Mine here in this country isn't as good as the ones in China- so I like to finish it with the powder. Thank you for sharing !!

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about 1 year ago ashleynickel

Jeremy, I lived in Chengdu and I love the vegetable you are talking about. It is called celtuse, or bosun in chinese. I have yet to find it here in the states which makes me really sad. WHat I am trying to figure out is what they use for the mini onion they put in this recipe. I think its the white end of green onions.

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about 1 year ago ashleynickel

* I meant bosun in chinese, sorry

Stringio

about 1 year ago Jeremy Bernozzi

I agree, the hua jiao here is usually stale and, I believe, radiated, as per import laws. So, I packed a carry bag full. But now, I totally agree, to get that real tingle and floral taste, it's best to add extra toasted ones at the end. Any body know about the green hua jiao? I thought my esophagus was closing up!

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over 1 year ago amp156

I finally got around to making this recipe and loved it, however, found biting into the whole sichuan peppercorns unpleasant after a while. I could omit them, but love the flavor and was wondering if anyone had experience with grinding them up.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I crush them well with a mortar and pestle, then press the bits through a fine sieve. It works great, and although you don't get as sharp a bite of flavor, you also don't get the tongue numbing effect of chewing the whole peppercorns. ;o)

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about 2 years ago molls to the wall

This was AMAZING, and such a good excuse to get my butt to the Asian market. I'm definitely going to try that stir fry sauce on other stuff as well. I love this site and this is the best recipe I've seen so far.

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about 2 years ago FrancesRenHuang

Thank you! Glad you enjoy it-- tell me how it goes!

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over 2 years ago Christina GK

yum! Made this last night, with forced substitutions for the ingredients I couldn't find. Very dry sherry for the Chinese wine, and a mix of balsamic and red wine vinegars for the dark vinegar. Lots of black pepper for the peppercorns. Hope my substitutions help other culturally-isolated cooks!

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almost 3 years ago Skinny bitches

OMG, so good! No more chinese gong bau chicken take-out for me..I am making this at home!! Thank you so much!

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about 3 years ago aurora504

Thanks...would balsamic due...better than red?? Thanks for your help it has been helpful. Take Care

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about 3 years ago aurora504

Hi there !! I live in a small area with little Asian food products. I would love to make your dish but am having trouble finding the dark vinegar. Even on the Asian Grocery website there is only a dark seasoned vinegar for sale. Is this the product ?? What can be a good replacement for it? Thanks so much for your help !!

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

you could use any other rich color vinegar as substitute: red rice wine vinegar 红米醋, aged dark vinegar 陈醋, or dark color vinegar with chinese label on it. I hope this is helpful!

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about 3 years ago Midge

Finally made this last night. Beyond delicious! Wondering what else I might use my black vinegar for, though I'm sure I'll make this again and again.

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

Glad that ppl are still trying this recipe! Happy you enjoyed it.

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about 3 years ago thebreukelenlife

I enjoyed this recipe! Had to make a few substitutions because I was missing Chinese Cooking wine and the vinegar. To sub I just used a basic white wine I had leftover from a dinner party and some sort of vinegar I got in Chinatown. Close enough! I was also missing the red chilis which was kind of a bummer. I added in about 4 cups of chopped broccoli which was a nice addition. Overall - highly recommended. Especially if you have all the ingredients. The chicken tenderizing bit was great!

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

The sauce is great for variations. Glad you optimize that to its potential!

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about 3 years ago matchbox

I made this once according to the sichuanese recipe.sis i think you can make it better.GO!but i like your other recipes,thanks for sharing!

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about 3 years ago Windtryst

Made this last night, with some changes because I only had regular soy sauce and vinegar, only had red pepper flakes. This was so good! My husband a meat & potatoes guy, liked it and said we should have it again! So it is printed out and in my folder in the kitchen. Thanks for a tasty recipe:)

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

I'm happy you enjoyed it.

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about 3 years ago healthierkitchen

I made this for dinner tonight and it was terrific! I did grind the peppercorns a little in a suribachi and used four thighs - it was exactly enough for 3 of us. The sauce was perfect - a welcome change from the sickly sweet sauce found in many restaurants in the US.

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about 3 years ago Rhonda35

Made this last night, doubled the recipe and 3 people devoured it to the sounds of "mmm mmm" and "yummo!" Very good. I have one or two questions: is the marinating process you use for the chicken called "velveting" the chicken? Also, what in the world does that little tiny bit of beaten egg do? I made a couple of changes - nothing major - added a little broccoli and, lacking Sichuan peppercorns, I used grains of paradise.

Thanks for sharing this easy and delicious recipe - a new house favorite!

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

Velveting. Yes. It prevents from drying out, keeping the meat tender and moist. Happy you enjoyed it.

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about 3 years ago DanaD

I made this tonight. I did something along the lines of quadrupling the recipe so I can't comment on the exact proportions. I will say that it's important to grind the peppercorns before you put them in the dish. I have a lot of leftover chicken with some very annoying crunchy things in it. The flavor is good but the texture is not. It also seemed a bit high on the peppercorns but as I said my proportions may have been off.

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about 3 years ago DanaD

I should also mention that I couldn't find something that was called Sichuan peppercorns in the enormous Asian market. A man who spoke English found them for me as prickly ash. According to Wikipedia they have lots of names in America including: "Szechwan pepper," "Chinese pepper," "Japanese pepper," "aniseed pepper," "Sprice pepper," "Chinese prickly-ash," "Fagara," "sansho," "Nepal pepper," "Indonesian lemon pepper."

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

Funny you say that. Im not a fan of peanuts while my husband loves it. So ill find it annoying to pick out the peanuts. (I secretly love biting into those chilis) Sichuan peppercorn in Chinese is called 'hua jiao' '花椒'. To avoid the cunchy numbness, sir-fry the peppercorns in low heat with oil until fragrant, discard the peppercorns, turn the heat up and continue with garlic, scallions etc. Or buy the powder, toast until fragrant and use as garnish for the extra kick. I hope that will make the next time more enjoyable! In China the using of chopsticks eliminate the necessity of removing the flavors of the dish: chills, ginger, peppercorns... Similar to why we eat fish with bones.

Junechamp

about 3 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm loving this! I don't usually cook Asian, but even I have these ingredients on hand. And I have a whole industrial sized container of Sichuan peppercorns. this sounds like dinner SOON!

And congrats on the Wild Card win.

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

Thank you! and you have an industrial sized of Sichuan peppercorns, impressive for a person that doesn't cook asian. :)

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about 3 years ago YumMom

Made this last night, and the whole family (including picky 10-year-old) loved it! My revisions:
added broccoli (sauteed along with ginger, scallions, garlic),
used less oil,
used boneless chicken breasts instead of thighs,
used Mirin cooking wine instead of Chinese cooking wine,
used rice wine vinegar instead of Chinese dark vinegar,
didn't have dried red chilies or peppercorns, so left those out but at the table we added a few drops of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce for those who wanted spice.
DELICIOUS! Thanks for the recipe.

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

Broccoli is a great add-on.

Monkeys

about 3 years ago monkeymom

congrats frances! thrilled this was picked!

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

I'm happy everyone enjoyed it!

Hib_kitchen

about 3 years ago MyCommunalTable

Congrats. I have saved this recipe. sounds great.

Mrs._larkin_370

about 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

congrats on the wildcard! can't wait to try this one.

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about 3 years ago cheese1227

This looks so very silky.

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

Thank you all! I am all about adapting and substituting. Chestnuts and celery sounds yummy! I also put Wood ear fungus. Actually anything with that sauce is good :)

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Walnuts would also be delish . . . . I'd cook them in 3 or 4 tablespoons of oil first, though, before doing any other stir frying. Almonds would also be tasty. Oh, this is making me hungry! I really like the suggestion of adding some celery or water chestnuts. My boys are going to love this. ;o)

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Congrats and thanks again for the useful advice in the comments about shopping for the ingredients for this. We (my whole family) loves your blog, too!! ;o)

Phoenix

about 3 years ago Phoenix Helix

I love wildcard wins! They contain such a variety of cooking creativity. Congrats!

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about 3 years ago cookinginvictoria

Congratulations on the Wildcard win! I cannot wait to make this. Sounds so yummy. CAnd thanks for posting some guidance on stocking an Asian pantry. So helpful to read your comments.

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about 3 years ago Sadassa_Ulna

Congratulations, this sounds great!

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations on the wildcard win! I am making this for dinner tonight!

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

OK, so my husband sat down at the table and said, wow, this smells like real Chinese food! It was fabulous! But it didn't make 4 servings--more like 2. Thanks for a great recipe!

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

Sorry :) My husband laughed and said this whole time I've not been feeding him enough.

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about 3 years ago JulietteMiranda

An allergy to peanuts is the tragedy of my life. Is it possible to substitute cashews?

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about 3 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Senior Editor of Food52

A good friend once made me a version using macadamia nuts -- it was amazing. I'm sure cashews would be great too.

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about 3 years ago Midge

Yay! I just finally wrangled all the ingredients to make this. A well-deserved wildcard!

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about 3 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

One of my favorite take out dishes. So excited to
Make it at home!

Lnd_jen

about 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

Oh YUM - congratulations on you Wildcard win!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Congratulations! This sounds really yummy.

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about 3 years ago SallyCan

Thanks for posting this recipe!

Monkeys

about 3 years ago monkeymom

Looks perfect for new years!

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about 3 years ago healthierkitchen

I am looking forward to making this very soon - it looks just wonderful. And I, too, appreciate the advice on the dark soy and vingeger shopping! Thanks.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Looks fabulous! What is "dark soy"? And, about that "Chinese dark vinegar," I have "brown rice vinegar" and "black vinegar," both purchased at an Asian grocery store. Which should I use? I cannot wait to try this!!! Thanks for posting it. ;o)

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

Dark soysauce is darker and thicker, contributing to a beautiful dark color and also a richer flavor. Regular soysauce is fine as well! Vinegar: chinese black vinegar is perfect. Enjoy!!

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks! Is there a brand of it that you like? When I go to the Asian grocer, I'm always a bit overwhelmed by the choices, with no idea which choices are better than others . . . . Thank you. ;o)

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

Very funny. I live in Buenos Aires so currently I don't have a lot of variety to choose from. Dark soy sauce has the word 老抽 (lao cho). My rule is to always buy soy sauce and oils in glass bottles and never to buy the cheapest one. Japanese brands are always safe to buy. Chinese brands are saltier and richer. Taiwanese brands' quality is similar to japanese brand but more or less cheaper.

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

FrancesRenHuang, this is the most helpful information that I have ever read on stocking my pantry at an Asian grocer! Thank you so, so much. I am indebted to you forever. (I'm not kidding.) ;o)

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about 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

oh no problem! I am happy to help anytime!

Mrs._larkin_370

about 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Mmmm...yummy.

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about 3 years ago Midge

Yum!