All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Toriniku to piinattsu no togarashi-itame / gong bao ji ding / kung pao chicken

A popular Chinese dish originally from Sichuan. Here is a colorful, sauteed version for home kitchens. Make sure to marinate chicken long enough for maximum flavor, and toast peanuts well prior to use for a nice crunch.


140-160 g chicken thighs (after removing skin and obvious fat)

For marinating chicken
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp egg (approx. 1/3 egg) or 1 egg white
1 tsp oil (not in photo)
2 tbsp potato starch

1/6 green pepper
1/6 red bell pepper
1/6 yellow bell pepper
70-80 g roasted (unsalted) peanuts
2 green onions (white sections)
7 whole taka no tsume red chili peppers
Small knob ginger
1 tbsp hua jiao Sichuan peppers (approx. 30 peppercorns)

1 tbsp oil (for sauteing; not in photo)
2 tsp potato starch + 2 tsp water

For seasoning
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp chicken stock
2 tsp Shaoxing wine
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Pepper, to taste (not in photo)


If chicken is thick, make crisscross cuts at 1 cm intervals halfway through surface.
Cut into 2 cm squares.

Pour Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, egg and oil, and mix well.

Add potato starch, mix well, and let sit at least 30 minutes (1 hour preferred).


Meanwhile, toast peanuts (without oil) on low heat.
When toasty and aromatic, remove from heat.


Remove seeds from red chili peppers. (With scissors, cut off the stem ends, cut open peppers lengthwise, and remove seeds.)
Cut green, red and yellow peppers into 1.5 cm squares. Thinly slice ginger, and cut into small squarish pieces. Cut green onions into 1.5-2 cm sections.


Mix all ingredients for seasoning, and set aside.


In a frying pan, heat oil, and saute hua jiao for a few minutes on low heat until fragrant.

Remove from heat, and discard hua jiao.


Add red chili peppers, and saute on low heat for 1-2 minutes.
Add ginger and green onions, and saute on low heat until fragrant.


Raise heat to medium high, and add chicken.
Do not shake the frying pan or stir chicken; let chicken cook halfway through.
When chicken is cooked (turns opaque about two-thirds or three-fourth up from bottom), flip.

Separate individual pieces as necessary.

Add green, red and yellow peppers.
Raise heat to medium high to high, and cook until chicken is done.


Add peanuts, and quickly stir.
Add seasoning, and quickly stir. 
Swirl in a small amount of potato starch + water mixture, quickly stir, and add more potato starch + water mixture as necessary.
Serve hot.

  • If Shaoxing wine is not available, sake can be substituted. If you do use sake, it is a good idea to make the seasoning somewhat stronger by using kurozu (Chinese or Japanese) brown rice vinegar instead of regular rice vinegar, or add a tiny amount of balsamic vinegar.
  • Whole red chili peppers are not that spicy. The above recipe uses seven peppers, but to our taste the dish is just on the high end of moderately spicy. Sliced chili peppers with many exposed surfaces pack much more of a punch.
  • The egg in the chicken marinade makes the meat supple and juicy.
  • This dish is also often made with cashew nuts.
  • If you wish to recreate what you eat at restaurants, deep-fry all the key ingredients (chicken, nuts and chili peppers) before sauteing.

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