Tuesday 6 March 2018

Gong Bao Chicken, Part 2

Oh hello! 

On the 10th anniversary of this blog (10 YEARS) I've decided to resurrect it from it's dead-of-Winter hibernation, to post a recipe for Gong Bao Chicken. 

I know. The ubiquitous Gong Bao Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, snore snore snore. No less because I have already posted about it, in 2011. Why do you need to know how to cook this, a takeaway classic of chicken and peanuts? 

Because it's delicious, that's why. I've made this so many times over the years, and it really benefits from being made at home, eaten fresh out of the wok. Silky chicken, spicy little punches of dried chilli, and crunchy rich peanuts makes a fine weeknight dinner with some rice and a vegetable side. I've made it with chicken thighs but also breast and for a quick cooking time, this is one of the only things I use chicken breast for. Sometimes I use cashews if I'm feeling flush, other times peanuts. A Google image search suggests that some add red and green peppers but I like the simplicity of just meat, nut and fire to highlight the sweet and sour aspects of the sauce. 

Velveting the chicken - that is, marinading in a liquid, cornflour and wine - is a handy technique to keep up your sleeve. Marinading in this style (often also with egg white) means that when the meat hits the hot oil, it cooks but still remains juicy and soft, where it can sometimes turn tough and stringy. With any chicken, pork or beef stir-fried dishes that includes quick flash-frying, removing from the pan, and then re-introducing the meat back in at the end, this is essential to keep the meat ....MOIST. Sorry. There's no other word for it. 

The main thing about this recipe is to be prepared. All the time taken is in the prep - have your spring onions chopped, your garlic and ginger minced, sauces all set out. The time it takes in the wok is really minimal so you don't want to be flapping around the kitchen while your chillis burn and cause an intense napalm-haze that makes everyone cry. If you think I'm sounding very specific then yes, you are right, that has happened to me. 

I partnered with Chinatown London to create this video inspiration for you to try it out yourself; the recipe is below. You can also eat it at pretty much any restaurant in Chinatown, though for the most authentic results I would head for Sichuan restaurants, like Er Mei, Bar Shu, or Bai Wei.

Gong Bao Chicken

Serves 2 - 4 depending on how many side dishes 

For the chicken: 

350gr chicken breasts cut into 3 cm cubes
1 tsp Shaoxing wine
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp cornflour 
Large pinch of salt

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornflour
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp water to hand 

For the dish: 

3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
8 small dried red chillis, stems removed, cut into 3cm pieces with scissors, seeds shaken out
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
5cm knob ginger, peeled and minced
6 spring onions, cut into thumb size lengths,
150gr roasted unsalted peanuts or cashews

Combine chicken, wine, soy sauce, cornflour, and salt in a small bowl and turn until well mixed and chicken is evenly coated in a thin film of the paste, and then set aside for at least half an hour.
For the sauce, add the sugar, vinegar, wine, soy sauce, and cornflour in a small bowl. Stir together with a fork until no clumps of cornflour are left.
Have all your ingredients out and prepared in front of you when you start cooking. 
Pour half the oil into the wok. Place over high heat and preheat until smoking, swirling up the sides. Add remaining oil and immediately add chillis and Sichuan peppercorns. Do not leave it alone at this point! Stir-fry until fragrant but not burnt, about 5 seconds. Then add the chicken, breaking up the clumps, and stir fry, pausing to allow the outsides to sear. Before the chicken is fully cooked (so, after 1 minute or so), add garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add scallions and peanuts and stir-fry for another minute.
Add the sauce ingredients and stir well until all the ingredients are coated evenly and the chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary to keep the sauce from sticking. Serve immediately with steamed white rice and vegetables.
(Disclosure: This is a paid partnership for me to develop the recipe and cook it in the video. All views  and words are my own)


Anonymous said...

I love your blog. I've followed it from the start and can't believe it's been 10 years. Please don't abandon it altogether just yet. I feel you've got so much more to tell me about. Thanks for all the insights so far.

Hollow Legs said...

Anon, that's made my day! I shan't abandon it just yet, even if it's just for you :)

alittleofwhatyouwant said...

And me!

Unknown said...

Hooray, a new post! This looks tasty, hopefully I'll make it soon.

Anonymous said...

😊 thank you