In traditional gong bao chicken, all ingredients are precisely cut into uniform ½ inch dice.  Andrew’s version is less meticulously cut, and he brightens the standard ingredients with the addition of red bell pepper and celery.

2 boneless chicken breasts, with or without skin

3 garlic cloves

an equivalent amount of ginger

5 spring onions, white parts only

1 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded

1 large stalk celery, trimmed

a handful of dried chiles (about 10)

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 teaspoon whole Sichuan pepper

3 ounces roasted peanuts

For the marinade:

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine

1-1/2 teaspoons potato starch

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon sugar

¾ teaspoon potato starch

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon chicken stock or water


1.   Cut the chicken as evenly as possible into ½ inch strips, then cut these into small cubes.  Place in a small bowl.  Add the marinade ingredients together with 1 tablespoon water, mix well and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

2.   Peel and thinly slice the garlic and ginger and chop the spring onions into chunks as long as their diameter (to match the chicken cubes).  Cut the bell pepper and the celery into 1/2 inch dice.  Snip the chiles in half or into sections.  Discard their seeds as far as possible.  Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

3.   Heat a seasoned wok over a high flame.  Add the oil with the chiles and the Sichuan pepper and stir fry briefly until the peppers have darkened but not burned (remove the wok from the heat if necessary to prevent overheating).

4.   Quickly add the chicken and stir fry over a high flame, stirring constantly.  As soon as the chicken cubes have separated, add the garlic, ginger, bell pepper, celery and spring onions and continue to stir fry until they are fragrant and the chicken is just cooked through (test one of the larger pieces to make sure).

5.   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 peanuts, stir them in and serve.

adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop, Every Grain of Rice

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