One-Pot Wonders

Gong Bao Ji Ding (Gong Bao Chicken)

February  3, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
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. —FrancesRenHuang

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 3 to 4
Ingredients
  • 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
Directions
  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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