This is a dish from Sichuan that has a distinctly sweet and sour chile flavor. It was invented by Ding Baochen who was governor of Sichuan despite being from Shandong. This dish, also known as “gong bao” (which means palatial guardian), was named after him. It should be numbing, spicy, sweet and tangy from the Chinkiang black rice vinegar.
Technique tip: Make all the sauce and then just pour it in to save stress when wok-cooking.
Swap option: Use fried tofu, prawns or beef instead of chicken.
For the chicken:
In a bowl, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the cornstarch and mix well.
For the sauce:
In another smaller bowl, add all the sauce ingredients together.
For the stir fry:
Heat a wok over high heat and when it starts to smoke, add the oil. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and dried chiles, and fry for a few seconds. Then add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 2 minutes. As the chicken starts to turn opaque, add the Shaoxing rice wine. Cook for another 2 minutes then add the sauce ingredients.
Add pepper and cook the chicken in the sauce for another 2 minutes. Keep cooking until the sauce has reduced, is slightly sticky and has a thicker consistency. Add the spring onions, cook for 1 minute and toss in some dry-roasted cashew nuts. Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.