The Mystery of Kung Pao
Kung Pao chicken (Chinese: 宫保鸡丁), also transcribed as Gong Bao or Kung Po, is a spicy, stir-fried Chinese dish made with chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers. The classic dish in Sichuan cuisine originated in the Sichuan Province of south-western China and includes Sichuan peppercorns. Although the dish is found throughout China, there are regional variations that are typically less spicy than the Sichuan serving. Kung Pao chicken is also a staple of westernized Chinese cuisine.
The dish is believed to be named after Ding Baozhen (1820–1886), a late Qing Dynasty official and governor of Sichuan Province. His title was Gongbao (Chinese: 宫保; pinyin: Gōngbǎo; Wade–Giles: Kung1-pao3; literally: "Palace Guardian"). The name Kung Pao chicken is derived from this title.
There are a few different versions of the dish from the original Sichuan version that has diced chicken is typically mixed with a prepared marinade. In Sichuan, or when preparing Sichuan-style Kung Pao chicken, only Sichuan-style chili peppers such as facing heaven pepper or seven stars pepper are used. It is these peppercorns that give authentic Kung Pao chicken its distinctive numbing flavor. Kung Pao chicken starts off with fresh, moist, unroasted peanuts or cashew nuts. These are often used instead of their pre-roasted versions. The peanuts or cashew nuts are dropped into the hot oil at the bottom of the wok, then deep-fried until golden brown before the other ingredients are added.
Versions commonly found in the west, called Kung Pao chicken, Kung Po, or just chicken chili and garlic, consist of diced, marinated chicken, stir-fried with orange or orange juice, ginger, garlic, chicken broth, sugar, cooking oil, corn starch, and salt and pepper to taste. The dish often includes or is garnished with whole roasted peanuts. Instead of chicken, western variations sometimes substitute other meat such as pork, duck, fish, or tofu.
Come try our version today!