If you enjoy hot and spicy stir fries, try this recipe from Food52. Gong Bao chicken, sometimes called Kung Pao chicken, is made with chicken, chiles, peanuts and a variety of other ingredients, depending on the recipe. In this recipe, the deeply satisfying heat comes from dried red chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. Sichuan peppercorns are a hot, fragrant type of dried peppercorn that, when ground, is one of the ingredients used to make five-spice powder. Once you assemble your ingredients, this dish cooks in less than 15 minutes. I served it with steamed rice and sautéed baby bok choy.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I didn’t have Chinese cooking wine, so I used a sweet rice cooking wine made by Kikkoman. I also substituted balsamic vinegar (with no sulfites added) for the Chinese dark vinegar. Use tamari instead of soy sauce, and look for a low-salt brand to reduce the sodium in this dish. I used cashews instead of peanuts and they worked just fine.

Assemble your ingredients before you start to cook

Partially cook the chicken and remove from pan

Stir fry the chiles, peppercorns, garlic, ginger and scallions

Return chicken to pan and add sauce

Gong Bao chicken with steamed rice and baby bok choy


2 chicken thighs, deboned and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes (if yours are tiny, you may want to throw in 1-2 more)

½ teaspoon (2 mL) beaten egg

2 teaspoons (10 mL) cornstarch

1 pinch salt

1 teaspoon (5 mL) Chinese cooking wine

2 teaspoons (10 mL) dark soy sauce

2 teaspoons (10 mL) brown sugar

1 tablespoon (15 mL) Chinese dark vinegar

1 tablespoon (15 mL) cornstarch

6 tablespoons (90 mL) of water or stock

½ cup vegetable oil (125 mL)

1 generous handful of peanuts

2 green onions, chopped into 1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths

4 garlic cloves, skin removed, smashed and chopped

6 slices of ginger

8 red dried chiles, chopped

4 teaspoons (20 mL) Sichuan peppercorns


In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, cornstarch, salt and wine. Toss with the chicken to coat and set aside. Can be refrigerated for up to 12 hours.

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, cornstarch and stock. Set aside.

Add the oil to a large non-stick skillet or wok and heat until shimmering. Add half the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until half-cooked, about 2 minutes. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.

Drain off all but 2 tbsp (30 mL) of oil in heated wok, throw in chiles, peppercorns, garlic, ginger and spring onion; stir-fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes; add peanuts and stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes.

Return chicken to pan and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add the reserved sauce and simmer until the sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Garnish with ground Sichuan pepper; serve with rice. Serves 2.

From The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2