Gong Bao Chicken

Sometimes translated from the Chinese as Kung Pao rather than Gong Bao, this stir fry from the province of Szechuan in central west China is simple but delicious. The recipe I used called for 4 dried chillies, but one or two would have been enough for us. I’m not a wuss (good Aussie term for a wimp for those who don’t know) when it comes to chillies, but dried ones seem to pack more of a punch than fresh ones. As it says on Wikipedia “the use of hot and numbing flavours is a typical element of Szechuan cooking”. Clears the sinuses.

Gong Bao Chicken500g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 Tbs cornflour
4 Tbs soy sauce
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts or cashews
2 Tbs oil
2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1-4 dried red chillies, to taste, roughly chopped
3 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed & finely sliced on the diagonal
Steamed rice to serve

Slice chicken and mix with the cornflour and 2 Tbs of the soy sauce. Leave to marinate for about 15 mins. Heat a dry pan and toast the nuts for a few minutes, stirring, until golden. Remove and set aside. Heat oil in wok or large frying pan. Add dried chillies and peppercorns and cook, stirring for 2-3 mins. Turn up heat and add chicken. Cook, stirring, until chicken is cooked on both sides. Add ginger, garlic, spring onions and nuts and continue to cook, stirring for 2-3 mins. Add remaining 2 Tbs soy sauce and serve with steamed rice.

Serves 3-4

Note: if you like a touch of sweetness, add 1-2 tsp brown sugar at the end with the soy sauce, or use kecap manis, which is a sweetish soy sauce.