It was time to try another delicious Chinese recipe. And the choice fell on this quick, easy and surprisingly delicious chicken dish, the Gong Bao chicken (gong bao ji ding). The dish is named after a Sichuan governor in the late Qing Dynasty, Ding Baozhen, whom he says he enjoyed it very much. In English it is often called Kun Po and is found virtually in every menu of China, in multiple versions. This presented below is typical of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, the city where you also find the Center for Research and Reproduction of Giant Panda so to speak, which I had the luck to visit last summer.

The cooking method of this dish is called xiao chao, that is “little fried”, where all the ingredients are simply added in the wok in succession. The Sichuanese cuisine is very spicy and this chicken is no exception: I have halved the amount of chili indicated, but adjust according to your tastes. Typical Sichuan flavors are also the sweet and sour sauce used to finish the dish and the presence of Sichuan pepper, plus crunchy peanuts, juicy peppercorns and succulent chicken nuggets give the palate a delicious sensation!

The ideal pot for this preparation would be an iron wok, but if you do not have it you can use a large pan.

The typical ingredients can be found in stores of oriental food, otherwise I will indicate with links – where possible – where to order them online. Sichuan pepper (I will never get tired of repeating it) can not be replaced by another pepper or omitted: its taste is decisive. The Shaoxing wine can instead be replaced with cooking wine. For the rest, make the effort to find the ingredients and experience this wonder: it’s worth it!

Pollo Gong Bao

Recipe from  “Every grain of rice”, F. Dunlop


  • 350 g chicken breast
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • an equivalent amount of ginger
  • 4 spring onions, white parts only
  • about 10 dried chillies
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan pepper
  • 75 g roasted peanuts

for the marinade:

for the sauce:

Cut the chicken breast into strips about 1.5 cm wide and then reduce them into cubes, as homogeneous as possible. Put them in a bowl and add the ingredients of the marinade mixed together with a tablespoon of water, mix well and set aside while preparing the rest.
Peel and thinly slice the garlic and ginger, cut the onions into small pieces about the size of the chicken cubes, cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. In a small bowl mix well the ingredients of the sauce.
Heat a seasoned wok over high heat, add the seed oil, the peppers and the Sichuan pepper and stir.fry briefly until the peppers start to darken but do not let them burn.
Quickly add the chicken and fry over high heat, stirring constantly, as the chicken cubes tend to separate, add the ginger, garlic and spring onions, continuing to stir-fry until they are fragrant and the meat cooked.
Stir the sauce and pour it into the wok continuing to shake it and to stir, as soon as the sauce thickens and becomes shiny, add the peanuts and serve.

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