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Moresby Meanders Observations From an Ongoing Journey

Passport & Plate - Gong Bao Zhi Ding

China | Thursday, March 13, 2014 | 5 photos

2 Chicken breasts cubed
2 Large spring onions thick sliced (can be substituted with celery or leek)
200g raw peanuts
A handful of whole dried chilies sliced in half and deseeded
1 small piece of ginger sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic sliced
250ml Shaoxing rice wine
1 cup water
1 egg white
1 Tbs Sichuan Pepper
5 Tbs pea starch
2 tsp sugar
vegetable oil
Soy Sauce
Chinese black vinegar (can be substituted with balsamic vinegar)


How to prepare this recipe
1) Place peanuts in pan and cover with vegetable oil. Heat pan and stir steadily. The peanuts will make a “popping” sound while cooking. When the popping stops remove the peanuts and oil separately and set to the side.

2) In a bowl mix together 2 Tbs pea starch, 100ml Shaoxing rice wine, 1 egg white and a pinch of salt. Coat chicken cubes with mixture. Fry in pan with a couple of Tbs of vegetable oil. When finished set to the side.

3) Place the spring onion, dried chilies, garlic, ginger and Sichuan pepper in pan and fry until fragrant

4) In a bowl mix together 3 Tbs pea starch, 150ml Shaoxing rice wine, 1 cup of water, 2 tsp sugar, and a dash of black vinegar and a dash of soy sauce to taste.

5) Add chicken and sauce to the vegetables and spices in the pan and stir. Finally mix through peanuts and serve.


The story behind this recipe
In May of 2013 I spent six weeks visiting family and traveling in Sichuan Province, China. One of my goals during the trip was to learn some local dishes and pick up a few tricks to add to my cooking repertoire. As a birthday present from my sister, it was arranged for me to spend a day with Mrs Du, the patron of a cozy “supper club” style home restaurant in the back streets of Tong Zi Lin, Chengdu. Mrs Du and I worked our way trough a list of local and seasonal dishes including; Mogu Shaorou (Mushroom and Pork Stew), Papa Cai (a summer veg soup), Liang Ban Cai (a cold dish consisting mainly of radish topped with a spicy sauce), Lao Ya Tang (Old Duck Soup), and Gong Bao Zhi Ding (also known in the west as Kung Pow Chicken), the recipe I have chosen to submit.
Gong Bao Zhi Ding is a traditional Sichuan dish, composed mainly of cubed chicken pieces, peanuts, dried red chilies and slices of a large spring onion (often substituted with sliced celery or leek). The characteristic flavors of the dish are provided by the addition of Hua Jiao (Sichuan Pepper), and Shaoxing rice wine made from fermented glutinous rice. The composition is delicate and well balanced in terms of colors, flavors and textures. Though the dish may appear spicy, the whole dried chilies are ornamental and are not traditionally eaten. The end result is a slightly sweet dish with hints of spice and an undertone of the numbing Sichuan Pepper that characterizes much of the regional cuisine. This dish has a wide reaching appeal and can be found in restaurants across China and the world.
Mrs Du was warm and welcoming and despite my broken Mandarin we connected over the food and turned out a tasty banquet. It felt as if the experience was meant to be when we found that the Chinese name I use while traveling in the region, the name of an ancient Chinese philosopher, is the given name of Mrs Du's daughter and the restaurants namesake. The day was completed sharing the meal with my family and local friends.

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