Booking the Cooks: The Shaolin Warriors’ Gong Bao chicken
The Shaolin Warriors are handy in the kitchen too. Who knew? They show Osin Davis some knife work
There will come a moment in every young boy’s life when he will want to chop a cement block with his forehead. It won’t be a dream-inspired vision or a prophecy that will bring this on, but the sight of a Kung Fu master working his magic as he enters a deep concentration and employs the highest level of inner energy control to make mincemeat of common building materials. Back when I were a wee lad, I could have only seen this kind of discipline in a martial arts film. Today it can be witnessed live on stage as The Shaolin Warriors are in the Olympia for the next three nights with their new show Return of the Master.
Considering that they are practitioners of Qi Kung and Zen Buddhist meditation who have been under a strict training regime since the age of five, the Warriors are surprisingly good humoured. When I asked them how much training was needed before one could administer the aforementioned brick routine, I was told: “Well, we really don’t recommend that anyone try it on his or her own without proper guidance. Maybe it is not a bad idea to try it on your boss’s head, but the Warriors will not take any responsibility for that.”
And when I asked whether there was any truth to the rumours that the drunken boxing style originated in Ireland, the response was: “Different drunkards have different styles with the various liquors available. The Warriors are very much interested in an Irish style, if there is any.” I have no doubt that we could find one.
The Shaolin Warriors are all from Northern China where this spicy dish is everywhere. When they’re on the road, this is the kind of grub they seek to stay fuelled.
The Shaolin Warriors are in the Olympia theatre until Sunday night
500g chicken thighs – remove skin and bones and cut into bite size chunks
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 tbsp corn flour
4 tbsp soy sauce
40g unsalted peanuts
2 tbsp of peanut oil
4 dried red chilies, roughly chopped or crushed.
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Combine the chicken, half of the soy sauce and corn flour, in a small bowl. Mix well and marinate for at least an hour. Heat a dry pan over medium heat and toast peanuts until golden.
Put the oil in a skillet on a medium heat. Add peppercorns and dried chilies and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Turn the heat up high and add the chicken. When the meat is seared, add the remaining ingredients and stir-fry until chicken is cooked. Remove from heat and pour remaining soy sauce over the chicken. Serve with boiled rice or noodles.