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【Learn Chinese】Traditional Food in China: Kung Pao Chicke
Kung Pao chicken 宫保鸡丁 (gōng bǎo jī dīng), also transcribed as Gong Bao or Kung Po, is a famous, spicy Sichuan-style specialty dish.
宫 (gōng) ”palace”; 保 (bǎo) ”to protect”; 鸡 (jī) ”chicken”; 丁 (dīng ) ”small cube”
It is very popular among both the Chinese, as well as foreigners.
The main ingredients are diced chicken, dried chilli and fried peanuts. Since the dish originated in Sichuan province, the original version of the recipe calls for Sichuan peppercorns.
You can find different (less spicy) versions of this dish all over China, but it has also become a staple of Westernized Chinese cuisine.
宫保鸡丁 is usually considered a 川菜 (chuāncài) Sichuan dish. However, it originally was a Guizhou dish, and there is an interesting story behind this.
Kung Pao is said to be an innovation of 丁宝桢 (Dīng Bǎozhēn), a governor-general of Sichuan Province (born in Guizhou Province) during the Qing Dynasty. Dīng Bǎozhēn loved to cook and while in Sichuan, which especially enjoyed eating chicken, peanuts and spicy food.
While he worked as the governor-general of Sichuan, he invented the dish of deep-frying chicken cubes (鸡丁 jīdīng), dry red pepper, and peanuts 花生 (huāshēng) together.
What came out was delicious, hot 辣 (là) chicken with crisp (脆 cuì) peanuts. This dish soon became the favorite of Dīng Bǎozhēn.
In order to commend his great work, the Qing Dynasty honoured him as a “太子太保 (tàizǐ tàibǎo) officer who tutors the crown prince,” also called “宫保 (gōngbǎo) officer who governs the palace”, and when he passed away Sichuan people named his favorite and most popular dish as “宫保鸡丁 (gōngbǎo jīdīng) Kung Pao Chicken” to commemorate him.