Monday, 5 September 2011

Gong Bao Chicken

This version of Gong Bao Chicken is not typical to the version you find in most Chinese takeaways. This Sichuan dish is usually bastardised to buggery, presenting itself in a sweet, gloopy, greasy mess. Fuschia Dunlop's version in 'Sichuan Cookery', however, is top notch.

Chicken isn't my favourite of all the meats, but it is perfect for this dish. Traditionally, chicken breast is used but I prefer the darker thigh meat. Though it needs a touch more cooking, the marinating technique ensures it is still tender and juicy while giving more flavour than breast.

Another deviation was that I used cashews instead of the more traditional peanuts. It's bloody difficult to find roasted, unsalted peanuts in the supermarket. Rows upon rows of dry roasted, honey roasted, jumbo salted, salted, even lemon and coriander-spiced peanuts, but plain roasted were not to be found and I couldn't be bothered to roast my own, so I settled for a posher nut.

The result is glossy, sweet and spicy velvet-textured meat, with the occasional crunch and richness of the cashew. Eaten with rice, this went down a storm with the family.

Gong Bao Chicken (adapted from 'Sichuan Cookery')

Serves 4 with 2 other dishes, or 2 with rice

325gr chicken thighs, deskinned and boned
4 cloves of garlic chopped & the equivalent of minced ginger
3 stalks of spring onion, sliced diagonally
A handful of whole dried chillis
1 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorns
75gr roasted unsalted cashews or peanuts

1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp light soy
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
1 1/2 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp water

3 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp dark soy
1 tsp light soy
3 tsp Chinese black vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp water

Snip the chillis in half, discarding the seeds, and soak in boiling water to soften.

Firstly, chop the chicken into chunks around the size of the cashews, maybe a little larger, and put in with all the marinade ingredients and mix well. Next, slice the spring onion so that it's around the same size as the cashews; you want everything roughly the same size.

Mix all your sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Toast the Sichuan peppercorns and then grind into a fine powder.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok till almost smoking, and add the chillis, stir-frying for a few seconds, before adding the ground Sichuan pepper in. Add the ginger, garlic and half the spring onion and stir-fry until fragrant. Turn the heat up and add the chicken, cooking for 5 or so minutes, stirring all the time so it doesn't stick or burn. Turn the heat down to medium and add the sauce ingredients and the cashews, simmering for a few minutes until thick and glossy. Toss through the rest of the spring onion and serve.


aforkfulofspaghetti said...

God, I really fancy that. Right now. Just the day for it.

Another for the 'must make' list. For once, I have all the ingredients. :))

Anonymous said...

Looks great. I haven't got any Chinese Black Vinegar to hand though - would any other type of vinegar work?

Hollow Legs said...

Anon - A cheap balsamic vinegar would work well too.

Unknown said...

that looks perfect on the sticky side of life. Hurrah for eschewing the sloppy sauce syndrome , there is nothing more upsetting when re-creating this food

Judith said...

Lizzie - we found plain peanuts on sale in Waitrose (though I'm not sure if they are roasted) but I love the idea of cashew nuts instead. Love this recipe - definitely the most made Chinese in my house.

Ino said...

Fuschia Dunlop's book just seems to be full of great recipes, I've come across so many on blogs. This looks excellent.

Raj said...

Where have you found the best place to buy sichuan peppecorns...with the proper numbing effect?

Hollow Legs said...

Gary - I hate gloopy sauces. No need!

Justine - ah ha, thank you!

Ino - I would highly recommend purchasing it.

Raj - Chinatown - specifically, New Loon Moon. They are properly numbing, just store in an airtight container.

The Perfect Trough said...

I'll try this tomorrow night! Have some boneless thighs in the freezer...

Anonymous said...

Based on the success of the last dish I tried from your site, I tried this yesterday.

SO good.

Thank you again. I'll be adding this to my regular recipe rotation.

Anonymous said...

Before you roast the sichuan peppercorns, do you take the black bits out first? I understood they taste bitter. It's quite fiddly though if you have to first take out the black seeds.

Liz said...

This looks delicious. Going to have to get that book. I often think cashews add a better taste than peanuts. Now why didn't I think of that yesterday before roasting and shelling 250g peanuts to make satay sauce!

Sakkarin said...

Hi Lizzie, just to mention that I've linked to your article on this Wildfood thread:

P.S: I'm with you on the peanuts, the recipe I did yesterday called for 3 oz of raw ones, peeled. The peeling took forever, even with a 2 minute soak in boiling water. :-(