Kung Pao Chicken History & Origins + Best Recipes




Kung Pao Chicken is a traditional dish that can be found at every Chinese restaurant. While it is most often linked with Americans and "westernized" Chinese food, the origins of the dish could still be tracked all the way back to China.


To begin, what exactly is Kung Pao?
Any bit of history on Kung Pao chicken must start with learning the Chinese name for the meal: gōngbǎo jīdīng. The anglicized word for gōngbǎo is Kung Pao. 

So, what exactly does Kung Pao mean?
If you search it down in a Chinese-English thesaurus, it means "hot diced chicken." However, there is more to it than that. Let's have a look at the characters one by one:

- gōng signifies palace, and bǎo means to watch or defend.
- jī indicates chicken dīng indicates cubed or chopped.

We can interpret gōngbǎo as "castle keeper" if we put them together. As a result, “castle guard sliced chicken” is a direct translation of the entire meal, Kung Pao chicken.

Origins of Kung Pao Chicken 

The tale starts in Guizhou, China's southernmost region. Ding Baozhen slipped into a lake as a young child in the early nineteenth century, without being able to swim. Ding was rescued owing to a local's prompt intervention, and he went on to occupy a government position in Sichuan province. 

Ding wanted to show his thanks to the guy who rescued his life decades ago, so he paid a visit to him and his family. The person brought him a meal he had never eaten previously, which included sliced and seasoned chicken, nuts, and hot Sichuan peppercorns. 

He was so taken with the meal that he requested for the recipe and began serving it to visitors at his house. Soon after, the meal became famous across the province and was given the name Gongbao Jiding, after the man who was credited to its success..

Kung Pao Chicken History Over The Years 

With the passage of time, the spicy and flavorful Kung Pao Chicken found its way into restaurants everywhere throughout China and ultimately North America, where Europeans fell in love with it. True Sichuan peppercorns are a key component in the authentic "Sichuan-style" version, but Western variants of the dish couldn't use them before 2005, when the pepper's import prohibition was relaxed. 

While the meal has stayed famous in the States and is still enthusiastically offered in Chinese restaurants, it does not have the same influence in China. For one thing, chicken-based recipes are not as renowned in China as they are in the United States, since the meat prepared there is generally dry and bland. As a consequence, the majority of chicken there is sourced from Japan. Furthermore, most residents avoid meals that have the starchy and sugary sauces found in many American-Chinese restaurants. 

Any Kung Pao dish wether it's made with chicken, beef, tofu, or even shrimp is a must-try recipe for anybody who like a robust sauce with a spicy taste. You can make your own Kung Pao sauce at your home using the same spices and peppers that were used in the original version of the meal with a little research online for the ingredients and recipes. 

Best Kung Pao Recipes

We have searched online and handpicked some of our favorite Kung Pao recipes based on taste, authenticity and ingredients.. Keep in mind that Kung Pao dishes can be made with different types of proteins such as tofu, chicken, shrimp and beef. Usually served by itself or on top of white, brown or fried rice.. Enjoy this awesome dish with family and friends! 

1. Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
A Sichuan classic recipe by Mandy. Follow the step by step recipe on youtube, the chicken turns out more tender and the Kung Pao sauce is so flavorful. 

2. Authentic Chinese Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
Watch Master chef Chen Yichun share his tips on how to make an authentic chicken recipe with step by step instructions.

3. Easy To Make Kung Pao Sauce
Easy, healthy and delicious Kung Pao Sauce that blends exceptionally well with any kind of protein and vegetables.


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