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10.17.2005

Homemade Gongbao Chicken

I've been on the lookout for Chinese restaurants that do good Gongbao Jiding ever since I came to North America--with mixed results most of the time. While the better (i.e., more expensive) restaurants can usually do a good job with it, the same cannot be said for the run-of-mill lunch-special-for-3.99 outfits (usually too watery). Today, I decided to give the dish a go myself--after finding a respectable looking recipe online (adapted below), and reminding myself that I should be looking for ways to use my small stash of Szechwan Peppercorn and Dried Chilli. But as usual, I had to take some liberties with the recipe, the most scandalous being the substitution of Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Peanut Oil (I've switched to Olive for practially all of my cooking--including stir fry--for a while by now), and Balsamic Vinegar for Black Chinese Vinegar (since my last bottle was used up and I wasn't intending to buy a new one just for this). The overall results--I am happy to report--exceeded expectations:

P1040276

Recipe (as I prepared the dish)
"+" means "and a bit more"

Main Ingredients
- 1 1/2 boneless chicken thigh (supposed to be breast) without skin (about 2/3 lb)
- 2 garlic cloves and an equivalent amount of fresh ginger
- 4 scallions (a.k.a. spring onion), white parts only
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (supposed to be peanut oil)
- Small handful dried red chillies (preferably Sichuanese, but I only have generic)
- 1 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorn (I love this stuff)
- 1/2 cup cashew Nuts (bits; traditionally roasted unsalted peanuts; but cashew is supposed to give a grander version of the dish--and in any case, that's what I have today)

Marinade
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine (medium-dry sherry is supposed to do as well)
- 2+ tsp cornstarch (or 1 1/2 tsp potato flour)
- 1 tbs water

Sauce
- 3 tsp sugar
- 1+ tsp cornstarch (or 3/4 tsp potato flour)
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 3 tsp Balsamic Vinegar (supposed to be Chinkiang black Chinese vinegar)
- 1 tsp sesame oil (product of Singapore "Chee Seng" brand, no less)
- 1 tsp chicken stock (i.e., water + pinch of Knorr chicken broth mix)

Preparation (As it turns out, most of the work is in the preparation (cutting, measuring, etc.). The cooking itself does not take all that long. Hopefully, as I get more experienced with the dish, I will be able to guesstimate the quantities without having to resort to the measuring spoons all the time. I've rearranged the original instructions to reflect the actual sequence I took more closely.)

1. Cut the chicken as into 1/2-inch cubes (no need to be too exact lah). Place in a small bowl and mix in the marinade ingredients. Let sit..
2. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and ginger. Chop scallions into chunks as long as their diameter. Snip the chillies in half or into 2-inch sections, discard as many seeds as possible. Set aside.
3. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

P1040271P1040272
(left: the ingredients all ready for the pan; right: a bevy of seasoning)

Cooking

1. Heat Olive Oil over high heat (another scandalous substitution: I use a non-stick pan rather than a wok). Leave one small slice of garlic for testing the temperature--when it begins to sizzle, it's time. Add the chillies and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry briefly until they are crisp and the oil is spicy and fragrant (opening the windows is advised). Take care not to burn the spices. Add the ginger and garlic (they are added later in the original recipe but Wifey prefers her garlic well cooked). Stir.

2. Add chicken and fry over high heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the chicken cubes have separated, add the scallions and continue to stir-fry for a few minutes until the meat is cooked through (test one of the larger pieces to make sure).

3. Give the sauce a stir and add it to the wok, continuing to stir and toss. As soon as the sauce has become thick and shiny, add the cashew, stir them in, and serve.

(Variations: The same dish can be made with cubes of pork, shrimp, or prawns.)

Next stop: Mapo Tofu, Iron Chef Chen Kenichi Style.

15 Comments:

Blogger ivan said...

looks yummy... will try it once my instant gongbao chicken mix runs out... lkk saves the day always with it's sauces.

Monday, October 17, 2005 9:18:00 PM  
Blogger Huichieh said...

LKK? Indeed! But I must say their version of Mapo Tofu is not to my taste--it's ok, but not what I am used to. Maybe I've been corrupted by the Japanese (Neo-Chinese) version. On the other hand, when it comes to authentic Singapore-Malaysian stuff, nothing beats Prima Packs.

Monday, October 17, 2005 9:26:00 PM  
Blogger locky2ky said...

I thought it is not very advisable to use olive oil for stir frying, some more yours is on high fire?

Non-stick pan don't have the "wok hei" and wont do much justice to this dish isn't it?

But mummm.... i'm tempted enough to go back to the kitchen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Huichieh said...

Definitely--if what you want is pure authenticity. But my choice mostly has to do with Olive oil being more healthy; using non-stick is ultimately more convenient given my small kitchen and non-flame stove. Can't have everything... But that said, the dish turned out quite decent. I think it can be done, as long as one is not purist.

But I probably should invest in a proper wok when back in Singapore...

Anyway, I have guests (3 Singaporeans and 1 Korean) over on Friday and I'm doing this dish (last night was the test run). So let's see what they say.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger Livet i Finlandighet said...

I came across this blog while searching for a good gongbao jiding recipe, and ended up trying this one.

The end result smells good, tastes good and looks good. For a while. However my dish ended up a little bit too thick and sticky, it was actually difficult to eat without getting all the peppercorns in as well. I suspect that had more to do with my personal touches to the recipe, though (for instance swapping chicken stock for oyster sauce, as I didn't have any). It was very fun to try, though! I wouldn't suppose you've got a good one for fried beef with chilli and scallions?

Sunday, March 18, 2007 1:39:00 PM  
Blogger Huichieh said...

Hi: Unfortunately, I don't have a recipe for fried beef with chilli and scallions (there might be one in Fuchsia Dunlop's book). "...swapping chicken stock for oyster sauce..." I think that will probably be too salty and make the sauce too thick :) The chicken stock can be replaced with water and a little soy sauce.

Friday, March 23, 2007 8:50:00 PM  
Blogger Livet i Finlandighet said...

Hi!

Yes, I found a recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop's book. However, that was an even bigger disappointment than my gong bao'd chicken :) I wasn't able to get the beef dry enough, probably a result of my regular stove not producing enough heat for the initial stir fry to be effective enough.

I found a Chinese shop in Helsinki that sold rice wine, and the next time I will skip the oyster sauce in the chicken dish. I think you're right, it made everything rather thick and sticky!

I'm going to Beijing on Thursday, it'll be good to eat the real thing for a couple of weeks after all of this experimenting (and failing)... :)

Thanks for the Fuchsia Dunlop tip!

Sunday, April 01, 2007 2:03:00 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

Thanks for sharing this! Having just moved away from Beijing, we've been craving some good GongBao JiDing, so I found some Sichuan peppercorns and then searched the web for recipes. I tried this one last night, and it was fantastic! One of my taste testers actually said that it was better than some of the 宫保鸡丁 we got back in Beijing.

Next time I plan to add more peppercorns to really emphasize the 麻 spiciness! I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 2:03:00 AM  
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Anonymous Sildenafil Citrate said...

I love Chinese food, but I'm not talking about the fast Chinese food, I am talking about the traditional Chinese cuisine which is very rich. Thanks for the Homemade Gongbao CHicken recipe!

Friday, September 10, 2010 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Sus said...

Nice recipe! I added red pepper and onion for more veggie nutrients, color and substance. I love those peppercorns!

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Blogger Nix said...

i am going to make this tomorrow. pretty sure my wife will love it.

thanks for the recipe !

Friday, September 23, 2011 1:28:00 PM  
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