Depending on what you read and where, Gong Bao Chicken is just another version of Kung Pao Chicken, the Chinese version of Kung Pao Chicken...or not related at all. As long as it's tasty, I'm not really sure that I care what you call it.
There are many recipes out there for Gong Bao Chicken...some with peanuts, some without. Some using chicken breasts, some using chicken thighs. Some with Sichuan peppercorns, some using more red chilies and no peppercorns. Again, as long as it's tasty I don't care what you put in it.
The recipe I used for Gong Bao Chicken came from Serious Eats. I love quick dishes like this. And though I tend to make quite a few chicken stir fry type dishes I love that they all seem to have a different flavor depending on the types of spices or even parts of the chicken you use.
It took me a bit to find Sichuan peppers in my grocery store. The store had a wide assortment of different brands of spices but I found Sichuan peppers in a display of little green boxes that sat at the end of an isle. I was concerned that the recipe called for these to be left whole and not put through a grinder. Since I didn't bite into any hard little balls of heat while eating, I guess this didn't matter.
Quick. Simple. Tasty. I put this over rice and grilled a few baby bok choy and we had a wonderful dinner that came together quickly. You can find the Serious Eats recipe here.
GONG BAO CHICKEN
(from Serious Eats)
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons unroasted peanut oil or other neutral oil
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
2 dried red chilies, roughly chopped or crushed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced
1-inch knob ginger root, peeled and very thinly sliced
4 scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped
Cooked white rice, for serving
Combine the chicken, corn starch, and half the soy sauce in a small bowl. Toss the chicken until it's well-coated in the mixture and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large, dry skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the peanuts and cook, gently tossing occasionally, until they're golden brown and fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Heat the oil in the skillet or wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and dried chiles and cook, stirring continuously, until the chiles turn a light brown in color.
Turn the heat to high and add the marinated chicken. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until starting to turn golden, then add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and peanuts. Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through, 1-2 minutes more.
Remove from the heat, pour the remaining soy sauce over the chicken and serve immediately with rice.
NOTE: I didn't cut up the chicken into small enough pieces for my liking.
NOTE: This dish wasn't spicy at all, even with the Sichuan peppercorns and chilies.
NOTE: Not a lot of sauce. But what was there went nicely over some rice (we used brown).
There wasn't a lot of spice or "heat" to this dish but it could have been peppercorns or chilies that were past their prime. I think this is one of those dishes where you can experiment and add more or less chilies and heat to your preference. I also think you can play with the other flavors (adding more garlic, less ginger) to make a dish that works for your taste buds. Use this recipe as a guide. Definitely a dish that will go into our "quick stir fry* dinner" rotation.
*I don't own a traditional wok by the way. I have an electronic wok that I usually only get out on special occasions and I have a Pampered Chef wok pan which is just more of a deep rounded frying pan. I do most of my stir frys in that Pampered Chef pan or a standard frying pan.