International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Gung Bo Gai Ding

Gung Bo Gai Ding (Chinese kung pao chicken)

(Chinese kung pao chicken with peanuts)

Image by C John Thompson

Average: 4.3 (10 votes)

Gung bo gai ding, better known as kung pao chicken, is a famous dish from the spicy repertoire of Guizhou province in south-central China. The story goes that kung pao was created by a palace guard (gong boa) who later became a provincial governor.

The tasty meal was brought to the United States by immigrants from Sichuan province, who added peanuts to the original recipe. It has since become one of the most popular Chinese dishes in the United States.

3 to 4 servings


  • Chicken breast or thigh meat, boneless, skinless and cut into 1-inch cubes -- 1 pound
  • Rice wine or dry sherry -- 1 tablespoon
  • Soy sauce -- 1 tablespoon
  • Cornstarch -- 1 tablespoon
  • Salt -- 1 teaspoon
  • Water or stock -- 2/3 cup
  • Soy sauce -- 2 tablespoons
  • Rice wine or dry sherry -- 2 tablespoons
  • Brown Chinese vinegar (see variations) -- 1 tablespoon
  • Sugar -- 2 tablespoons
  • Salt -- 1 teaspoon
  • Cornstarch -- 1 tablespoon
  • Oil -- 1/4 cup
  • Dried chile peppers -- 4 to 6
  • Garlic, minced -- 1 tablespoon
  • Ginger, minced -- 1 tablespoon
  • Roasted peanuts -- 1/3 cup
  • Sesame oil -- 1 tablespoon


  1. In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the rice wine or sherry, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and salt and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Then drain the chicken from its marinade.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the water, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, vinegar, sugar and salt. Adjust seasoning to taste and stir in the other tablespoon of cornstarch.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or large pot over medium-high flame. Add the chile peppers and stir fry until almost blackened, about 30 seconds. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for another 30 seconds. Add the chicken and stir fry until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Swish the sauce to mix in the settled cornstarch and stir the sauce into the chicken. Simmer until the sauce thickens, adding water if necessary it gets too thick.
  5. Remove from heat, stir in the peanuts and sesame oil and serve with steamed rice.

Gung Bo Gai Ding Variations

  • Vegetarian Kung Pao: Substitute cubes of tofu for the chicken and eliminate the cornstarch from the marinade. Deep-fry the tofu first if you like.
  • Substitute 2 teaspoons chile flakes or 2 teaspoons hot bean paste for the whole chile peppers.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup chopped garlic chives after you stir fry the chicken but before you add the sauce. Stir fry another 1 or 2 minutes, then add the sauce.
  • Vegetables can be substituted for some of the chicken. Try cubed onions, bell peppers or celery.
  • Red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar are acceptable substitutes if you can't find brown Chinese vinegar.


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