Gong Bao Chicken with Peanuts
Adapted from Every Grain of Rice, by Fuchsia Dunlop

While I stayed pretty faithful to Dunlop’s recipe, I added the vegetables to mimic the stir-fry kit from Fresh Direct. I quite like the end result with the vegetables, and you may want to swap in others if you prefer them: snow peas, Chinese broccoli, bok choy – there’s no limit. If you like water chestnuts, toss them in for added texture. I have prepped the chopped vegetables a few days in advance, and the sauce and marinade the day before (and kept in the fridge). I’ve marinated the chicken overnight to great results; and I’ve also marinated for 20 minutes with fantastic results as well. What I like here is flexibility, ease, and convenience. It doesn’t hurt that it’s fairly healthy to boot. We serve this over steamed brown rice, but you’re certainly welcome to swap in the rice or grain of your choice. I imagine it being good over quinoa or barley as well.

For the Marinade:
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
1 1/2 teaspoons potato or corn starch

For the Sauce:
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon potato or corn starch
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar (I didn’t have this so used rice vinegar)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon chicken stock or water

For the Stir-Fry:
2 boneless chicken breasts with or without skin (10 to 12 oz / 300 to 350 g in total)
5 to 10 dried chiles, or to taste (start with fewer if you prefer your food mild)
2 tablespoons cooking oil (I used grapeseed)
1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper (start with 1/4 teaspoon if you prefer your food mild and build up)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
an equivalent amount of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
A handful of roasted unsalted peanuts
Steamed rice, for serving

1. In a medium bowl combine the marinade ingredients with 1 tablespoon of water and set aside. In a small bowl combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.

2. Cut the chicken as evenly as possible into 1/2-inch (1 1/2-cm) strips, then cut these into small cubes. Add the chicken to the bowl with marinade and toss to combine. Set aside while you prepare other ingredients.

3. Snip the chiles in half or into section and discard the seeds. Heat a seasoned walk over a high flame. Add the oil with the chiles and Sichuan pepper, and stir-fry briefly until the chiles are darkening but not burned – this can happen in seconds – (remove the wok from the heat if necessary to prevent overheating).

4. Quickly add the thick and stir-fry over a high flame, stirring constantly. As soon as the chicken cubes have separated, add the ginger, garlic, and scallions, and continue to stir-fry until they are fragrant and the meat just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes (test one of the larger pieces to make sure). Add the zucchini, peppers, and celery and cook until just warmed through, about 1 minute.

5. Give the sauce a stir and add to the stir-fry, continuing to stir and toss. As soon as the sauce has become thick and shiny, add the peanuts, toss, and serve immediately over rice.

© 2019 Olga Massov