Governor's Chicken

Recipe courtesy Stuart Chang Berman, Potsticker Chronicles, John Wiley & Sons, 2004
TOTAL TIME: 35 min
Prep: 15 min
Inactive Prep: --
Cook: 20 min
YIELD: 4 to 6 servings


  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg white
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch diamond-shape pieces
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, optional, seeded and cut into 1-inch diamond-shape pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 2 dried hot red chile peppers, or to taste and tolerance
  • 1 cup cocktail peanuts
    • SAUCE:
      • 2 teaspoons sugar
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
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      There was a ritual to how Eileen and I would cook Governor?s Chicken. I would coat the chicken. Eileen would peel the scallions and ginger. I would cut the peppers into diamond shapes while she would concoct the sauce. After she flaked the dried red chiles over the rest of the vegetables in a colander, she would rinse them under cold water and hand the colander to me. I would stir fry the dish to completion. This balletic pas de deux remains luminescent in my memory, the glow in which I bask in the good memories of my marriage, which, although long term, did not last, although my Governor's Chicken, has, presumably, into eternity. This type of dish is generally referred to by Chinese people as "dry cooked" because there is relatively little sauce. The sauce just lightly coats the ingredients.
      Cut the chicken into 3/4-inch cubes. Combine the cubes with the egg white, 2 tablespoons of water and 3 tablespoons of the cornstarch. Mix well. Heat the 2 cups oil in a wok to 280 degrees F, or put 1 piece of chicken in the oil and, when the bubbles rise from it like Champagne bubbles, add the rest of the chicken. Stir the chicken slowly and cook until the pink is no longer visible. Drain in a colander.

      Combine the bell peppers, scallions and ginger in a colander. Rinse in cold water. With a pair of scissors, cut the hot peppers lengthwise and then cut again widthwise, flaking the bits on top of the vegetables in the colander.

      Sauce: Combine the soy sauce, sherry, garlic, sugar, salt, 2 tablespoons of cold water, and the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Mix well.

      Heat the 3 teaspoons oil in a wok until smoking. Stir-fry the vegetables for 5 minutes, or until bright in color. Add the chicken cubes and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the cocktail peanuts and toss 3 times.

      Restir the sauce and add it to the chicken and vegetables. Toss 5 times quickly and serve.

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