Gong Bao Ji Ding (Gong Bao Chicken)

February 3, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

A perfect gong bao ji ding has different components: the tenderness of the chicken, 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.


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&MThe Editors

Serves: 3 to 4
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 10 min


To tenderize 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

To stir-fry:

  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese dark vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons water or stock
  • 1 handful of peanuts (generous amount)
  • 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 Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
In This Recipe


  1. Mix together the marinade with the meat; set aside while preparing the rest. *You can store this in the 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° C.
  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.
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Reviews (104) Questions (9)

104 Reviews

Jane November 11, 2018
Made this and wasn’t thrilled with the results - maybe suggest crushing the peppercorns and doing 2tsps instead of 4. It was a lot for just two chicken thighs, and every time you bite into a peppercorn it’s this blast of floral flavor and your palate goes numb. Would also recommend crushing the peanuts.
Paige September 22, 2018
So good but HOT.
AK June 4, 2018
This is fantastic and would probably have been even better if I could have followed the recipe exactly. My mods: doubled the recipe; subbed gin for Chinese cooking wine; subbed balsamic vinegar for the Chinese dark vinegar. (Not by choice; couldn’t open the bottle!) I look forward to adding this to my regular rotation. Served with brown rice, cucumber salad, and stir-fried bok choy and red bell pepper. Steamed broccoli would probably work well.
Author Comment
FrancesRenHuang June 4, 2018
Gin! Nice! Vodka will be good as well, maybe whiskey :) Yes the chinese dark vinegar is key. Steamed broccoli would work excellent!
Christine June 3, 2018
Hi! We are just sitting down to make this but 2 chicken thighs feels like it would be for just one person, is that correct? Feeling confused by the measurements!!
Author Comment
FrancesRenHuang June 3, 2018
If it is the only meal you will be eating, it might be a little bit less. It is good to eat with other dishes. You can try it and tell me? 3 chicken thighs you will definitely be full for two people!
Kathy R. June 3, 2018
Frances, I can’t wait to try this but I’m new to cooking Chinese. What kind of wine did you use in the marinade?
ZQ June 3, 2018
This sounds wonderful. I grew up with Chinese cooking, but had always been taught to use just the egg white, not the whole egg, to keep the flavor clean and make a slightly crisp coating when cooked. What does the egg yolk do? Also, by dark Chinese vinegar do you mean red vinegar (as used with bird’s nest soup or xiao long) or black vinegar (which I tend to use in braising because it seems sweeter)? Thanks. I look forward to trying this recipe soon!
Author Comment
FrancesRenHuang June 3, 2018
Yes! Egg white for all Chinese dishes including this one, but in Beijing homes we have tried it with egg yolk and egg white together (a bit of laziness) and it works as well- just to save trying to use egg yolk for another day. Egg white does have more protein to bind and make the meat more silky, and it is used in Chinese professional kitchens. Try whatever works for you! Vinegar is the dark black vinegar called 陳醋, used in Sichuan cooking as well as Northern Chinese cooking.
Merry June 3, 2018
I used 4 chicken thighs. Very spicy, which we liked, but I think I would still tone it down next time and use a bit less oil.
Author Comment
FrancesRenHuang June 3, 2018
Yah! happy you enjoy it! Yes you can try putting less oil and see how it works for you!
carol June 3, 2018
This recipe sounds wonderful however I'm not a fan of chicken thighs. Could I substitute cubed chicken breasts.
Author Comment
FrancesRenHuang June 3, 2018
Yes! Tofu and tempeh as well!
Michael L. May 29, 2018
To tenderize the meat, it indicates 1/2 teaspoon of a beaten egg. It this correct? 1/2 teaspoon does not seem like enough? Can you verify the accuracy of the measurements in this recipe? thanks
Author Comment
FrancesRenHuang May 30, 2018
Hi Michael! 1/2 tsp of beaten egg, or just enough to coat thinly the meats you have cubed up. You want it to create a coating with the cornstarch to keep the meat moist when it is being stir-fried. It won't hurt if you feel like it needs a bit more than that, as long as it doesn't turn into an egg dish! :D
Michael L. May 30, 2018
Wow! Ok... it just seems like it would barely coat one piece of the thigh! I suppose its used for binding. Just coat and throw it in the fire, no need to let it marinate first? Thanks Frances!
Author Comment
FrancesRenHuang May 30, 2018
I like how you said throw it in the fire! If you are in a hurry you can very well just coat and then start your cooking process, but we like to at least let the meat sit 10min on the counter while prepping all the other ingredients, or you can prep everything and just put it in the fridge for half a day as well. Hope that helps!!
Lauren L. March 30, 2018
Everyone raved about the recipe and I was so excited to make it, but something, sadly, went terribly wrong! It was inpallatable, I think I should have ground the peppercorns, or maybe got the wrong type of Sichuan peppercorns? However, there was no specific instruction on this.
Trena H. March 30, 2018
I lightly grind the Sichuan peppercorns w/ a mortar and pestle. I find the flavor and texture too intense when I don't do this.
Lauren L. March 24, 2018
Is it possible to make this in a saucepan, not a wok?
Trena H. March 24, 2018
Yes! I've made this in my 12" All-Clad skillet and it works quite well. Enjoy!
Lauren L. March 30, 2018
Awesome, thank you!
msmely February 2, 2018
This recipe was perfect. I heated the wok probably to higher than 120F and then once chicken was cooked and some of the oil drained off I dry fried the sichuan peppercorns and chiles in the oil to toast them before adding the wet ingredients. Peanuts were added last, I used dry roasted peanuts. If you go easy on the salt when marinating the chicken (stick to 1 tsp of cooking wine if it's salted) even dry roasted salted peanuts do not make the dish too salty. The wok was hot enough by the end that when made as directed the liquid in the sauce evaporated almost instantly, I did not need 3 minutes of simmering. Served on steamed rice with a healthy serving of Fushia Dunlop's Sichuan dry fried beans.
Jill D. April 26, 2016
Delicious!<br />
brother U. December 20, 2015
on step 2: Heat up wok with vegetable oil until shimmering and hot, about 120 F.<br />I don't think 120F (49C) is hot enough to cook anything with vegetable oil. Could it be another temperature?
beejay45 February 23, 2016
Best to just wait for the shimmer, and you get to recognize the aroma of the hot oil, too. As you noted, stir fry needs to be done at high heat and 120F is not that at all. My old recipe from the PRC Culinary Academy (or something along those lines) didn't call for the Szechuan peppercorns but used the long, thin, dried red peppers instead...and they were toasted in a very hot wok so they turn a dark red, not burnt but dark red. I think all that flavors the oil so it's not even an issue if you aren't up to crunching down on the whole peppers.<br /><br />Someone mentioned that using chopsticks you don't get those little bits like the crushed peppercorns, which is true. Also for those folks who felt the portions were too small, Chinese cooking in general uses very little meat and you fill up on veggies prepared various ways and the every popular white rice. :) Really healthier for pretty much everyone.
cathrina February 17, 2019
You are right, brother, 120F isn't hot enough to cook anything. The recipe actually says 120C, which would be about 250F<br />
ann H. October 29, 2014
This was great, thanks for sharing. Next time I'll add a little bean paste like another reviewer mentioned. Really appreciate the marinade tip for the chicken.
emcsull August 30, 2014
is this General Whosis' chicken ?
Mary B. April 3, 2014
We loved this...especially the burn afterwards! Quick, easy and delicious.
Elizabeth S. December 15, 2013
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.
michelle_brown December 15, 2013
This recipe is the best yet. I love the peppercorns and the sauce is perfect. I add a little bit of vegetables.
pokolik October 17, 2013
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.