One-Pot Wonders

Gong Bao Ji Ding (Gong Bao Chicken)

May 23, 2021
19 Ratings
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.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • eatchimac
    eatchimac
  • Alyssa Goch
    Alyssa Goch
  • Kathy Robert Robey
    Kathy Robert Robey
  • Lauren Lizewski
    Lauren Lizewski
  • msmely
    msmely

113 Reviews

Deborah B. May 17, 2021
Why would I make this? I don’t know what “Chinese cooking wine” is, what “Chinese dark vinegar” is and whether the peanuts are raw, roasted, salted.........Not to mention, for those of us living outside Manhattan these are not necessarily easy ingredients to find. (I shouldn’t have to plan my menus around Amazon’s delivery schedule!). Let’s do some better editing, better ingredient descriptions, fewer exotic materials, and a better substitution list.
 
Franca May 18, 2021
Nobody is asking you to make anything. You could simply try another recipe.
 
Wendy May 20, 2021
Maybe American food would be less frightening to you.
 
teehee999 June 1, 2021
I think your better off cooking some Kraft mac n cheese...I'm sure you can find that.
 
TroMaClo June 6, 2021
Never thought someone could feel attacked by a recipe but you sure appear to be. Imagine thinking you can only find Chinese ingredients in Manhattan lol.
 
eatchimac March 30, 2021
Oh, I didn’t try Gong Bao Ji Ding Recipe. Now I can make it at home. So glad for sharing this recipe Now I can make it at home. It looks delicious. Now I can share your blog with my friend circle. I am so glad after seeing your recipe, Thanks for sharing this recipe. Food is one of the biggest topics of conversation online and offline. Keep it up, I am waiting for your next recipe!
https://eatchimac.com/
 
Alyssa G. February 9, 2021
Honestly, haven't made this recipe yet (but I have all the ingredients and have used combinations like this before and it's hard to go wrong). Any tips for making this with whole skin-on bone-in thighs? Bought them on a whim and wanted to do something with them involving all the flavors that happen to be in this recipe and just want to make sure that the marinade won't make the skin soggy. My partner and I have cooked amazing skin-on chicken over a campfire, so I'm sure I can figure this out, but second opinions always welcome.
 
Author Comment
FrancesRenHuang February 9, 2021
Hi Alyssa. I would recommend to skip the marination ingredients and do the braising way. With some oil in the pan, pan-fry the skin-on bone-in thighs until they are nicely browned on all sides; remove the chicken thighs. Keep about 2tbsp oil hot in the pan and stir-fry the garlic, ginger, green onion, dried chilis, peppercorns until fragrant then pour in the soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and water/stock; add the chicken thighs back in. Cover. Cook small fire for 15-20 min or until the chicken is tender. Check and taste and adjust the soy sauce, sugar and vinegar. Mix cornstarch with a bit of water until it is dissolved and pour it for a bit of gravy consistency. Add in the chopped peanuts before serving. Hope that helps.
 
Alyssa G. February 10, 2021
Thank you! We'll definitely make this again. The stovetop+cover option is the way to go, and I'll explain why: I salt brined the chicken for about 8 hours to tenderize the muscle and then browned the chicken on the flesh side using a cast-iron with the plan to finish it in the oven. I then removed the chicken temporarily to sauté the garlic and friends, then added the chicken back (this time on the skin side) and then the sauce. Everything looked beautiful, but I wanted to be sure the chicken was brought to the safe internal temp, so I popped the whole cast iron, chicken, and sauce into the oven. The chicken turned out perfect, but as would happen in an open-top environment: the sauce was almost candied. I'll definitely take the stovetop+cover route, and the water+cornstarch route next time. We loved the flavors, but only had some dried chilis from the local Hispanic store, so it wasn't spicy enough for us, but this was certainly in the direction we crave and I can't wait to try it again. <3
 
Danielle B. February 26, 2019
Struggled with this one. Rated the most epic fail by my family in 25 years! Doubled the recipe (2 thighs w teenage boys!?). The peppercorns were WAY too overpowering. Literally made our mouths go uncomfortably numb with each bite. This recipe has so much promise - beautiful texture and good flavour potential - but something is seriously off with the peppercorns. Maybe 1/2 tsp ground for a double batch would be better? Crazy bad the way it was. Threw it out and ate leftovers instead.
 
Jeff A. February 26, 2021
Of course it's hot as it is supposed to be. If you don't like hot food, why make a Sichuan dish? Your fault, not the recipe's.
 
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.
 
Lauren L. March 24, 2018
Is it possible to make this in a saucepan, not a wok?
 
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!
 
brother U. December 20, 2015
on step 2: Heat up wok with vegetable oil until shimmering and hot, about 120 F.
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.

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
 
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 ?
 
Janet M. March 5, 2019
No--this is a lovely spicy dish closer to Kug Pao, but saucier, not as hot and a tad sweeter. I used chicken breast-1 boneless about 3/4 lb. It was delicious. I served with dry fried green beans.