Kung Pao Chicken, A Sichuan Treats
Some call it Gong Bao or Kung Po, but they are all the same dish – Gong Bao Ji Ding, a chicken dish which originated from Sichuan, China. A spicy stir-fried chicken with Sichuan peppercorn, chili peppers, peanuts, and vegetables. Believe it or not, the name Kung Pao was named after an official governor of Sichuan province during the Qing Dynasty, specifically, the official Ding Baozhen (1820 – 1886), where Ding means “small cube”.
However, there is no detailed records of why this dish was named after him.
Types of Kung Pao Chicken
Well, according to Wiki, there are three variations of this dish, but I think there is one more variation that is not documented on Wiki, making my list to a total of four variations.
The original Kung Pao Chicken (is also the recipe that I will be sharing here) consist of marinated diced chicken stir-fried with Sichuan Peppercorn, chili peppers, dried chili, vegetables, and peanuts. While this dish does not fall into the numbing (mala) flavor category, the Sichuan Peppercorn is used just to balance the heat of the chilis.
They are dry and not saucy, but full of complex flavor from spices, hot, and salty.
In this version of Kung Pao chicken, the local Guizhou’s Ciba Chili paste is used, the chili peppers are as well flash-fried before the whole chicken dish is stir-fried. The rest of the ingredients are rather similar.
Slightly saucy due to the chili paste that was used, hot, spicy, and salty.
Commonly known as Kung Po Chicken, is where the chicken is stir-fried with orange juice, ginger, garlic, sugar, oil, a mixture of vegetables, and starch. Instead of hot, the western version is more towards citrusy and sweet.
Due to local influence in western countries, sweet profile and saucy factors are added.
Lastly, the Malaysian version of Kung Pao Chicken is stir-fried chicken cubes with dried chili, black soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili sauce, and ginger. The flavor profile is towards sweet and spicy.
Malaysian loves black soy sauce, and sweet flavor. The local preferences have greatly influenced this dish.
Some of the ingredients can be substituted with local ingredients from your region like;
- Chilies – I cannot take a lot of heat from the chili, hence I replace them with capsicum. But if you like hot and spicy, feel free to use your local chilies.
- Nuts – Instead of peanut, I replace them with cashew nuts, but you can use a lot more other options, say if you are allergic to peanut, you can use almond as a substitute.
- Chicken – I do believe you can try with beef (use tender beef parts) or fish, perhaps. For vegetarian options, use vegetarian soy meat, or seitan.
- Sichuan Peppercorn – If you could not get your hands on them, simply skip this ingredient.
Author have a say…
A spicy stir-fry Sichuan recipe is also known as Gong Bao Chicken or Kung Po Chicken. The core ingredients for Kung Pao Chicken are Sichuan Peppercorn, dried chili, peanuts, chili peppers, and vegetables. A delicately complex spicy and lightly numbing dish!
Source : Wiki
Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
To Marinate Chicken
- 800 g Chicken Breast (skinless)
- 1/3 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Shao Xing Wine (options - rice wine)
- 2 tbsp Water
- 1 tbsp Plain Flour
To Stir Fry
- 2 tbsp Sichuan Peppercorn
- 1 handful Dried Chili
- 100 g Leek (option - spring onion or scallion)
- 1 pcs Red Capsicum (option - hot peppers)
- 1 handful Cashew Nuts (option - peanut, almond, etc)
- 100 g Green Beans
- 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 tsp Salt
- 6 tbsp Cooking Oil
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To Marinate Chicken
- Cut chicken breast into cubes.
- Marinate with salt, water, and shao xing wine.
- Add flour to mix.
- Marinade as you proceed to other steps.
- Cut leek, capsicum, and green beans into bite-size.
- Prepare other ingredients.
- Preheat a pan with cooking oil.
- Sear chicken to brown edges.
- Remove chicken and set aside.
- With the oil still in the pan, add green beans, and cashew nuts and fry at low heat.
- Once cashew nuts begin to brown, strain, and set aside.
- Then add Sichuan peppercorn and dried chili. Stir-fry at low heat to aromatic fragrance.
- Add leek and thoroughly stir-fry.
- Add seared chicken and green beans.
- Switch to high heat and stir-fry.
- Add soy sauce and salt. Continue stir-frying to mix.
- Add cashew nut and continue stir-frying.
- Pour shao xing wine in, briefly stir it and remove from heat.
- Plate and serve.
- Green beans tend to wrinkle if we fried them with oil that is too hot. So fried them at low heat to prevent them from wrinkling. I learn this from a Master Cantonese chef, credits to Chef Ming from Guangzhou.
- The level of hotness or heat of this dish is flexible, depending on the type of chili/pepper used. Use the chili/pepper of your choice to suits your personal preference.
- Stir-frying is a quick-cooking techniques. However, if you are inexperienced with stir-frying, practice by switching on and off the fire until you get the hang of it. Practice makes perfect!
*These Nutritional Values have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration
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