Culinary Yangshuo, China and Gong Bao Chicken

Posted on by on August 28th, 2011 | 23 Comments »

Picture this; karst limestone peaks towering over the beautiful Li River where bamboo rafts float along. Crystal clear waters of the Yu Long river where children splash and play as people float down the water to the ancient Dragon Bridge. Cobble stone ancient streets of the old city where merchants hock  their goods to the touristy passerby. A food market tucked away on a busy main street selling everything from fruits to spices, noodles to meat. Days are spent rock climbing, lazying around the river or mopeding through the beautiful countryside with stops to eat fresh lotus fruit from the lotus farm or chat with locals in one of the many small surrounding villages.This magnificent scene was the backdrop for the cooking class I was lucky enough to be able to take on our stop in beautiful Yangshuo, China.

We met Linda, our cooking instructor outside of the Yangshuo market. What looked to be a small covered market with vendors that spilled onto the street opened up to large space broken into various areas, vegetables, sea food, fuit, spices and noodles, meat and poultry. As we entered the market vendors sitting on the floor with large bins filled with water caught my eye. They were selling the usual fish and shellfish and the more unusual turtles, snakes, eels and frogs. The vegetable and fruit portion of the market boasted a variety of offerings I have yet to find in the states or in Israel; lotus root, bitter melon, bamboo, the most unusual mushrooms, mangosteens, jack fruit and more.

We worked our way through the market as Linda  stopped to point out a variety of spices, seaweed, noodles and tofu. Onward to the meat section where slaughtered ducks lay in rows, chickens, still alive in coups were sold to customers, live rabbits waited on tables to be picked up and skinned dogs hung in the corner. The sight made me want to become a vegetarian and the dogs made me turn to my husband almost in tears. We then skipped the walk through the meat market and headed out to the fruit stands to regain some of our appetite for the cooking class we were about to participate in.

We entered a classroom in Cloud 9 restaurant with 2 large rows of woks set over burners, cutting boards, knives and seasonings. We were handed aprons and chef hats and quickly dove into our lesson on knife skills. Linda briefly went over the correct way to hold a knife and how to chop our vegetables properly so we dont chop off a finger. We were given a basket of ingredients for the 3 dishes we were going to learn to prepare; fried green beans with garlic and chilies, sweet and sour pork and Gong Bao chicken. Linda showed us how to properly smash garlic so when you chop it, it will be chopped nice and fine. We learned to the key to frying the green beans so they charred just perfectly and the secret to getting that wonderful orange color of sweet and sour pork. My husband was excited to see his favorite dish Gong Bao Chicken on the menu and for us to learn how to make it just right. After cooking each dish we would enjoy our creations in the dinning room downstairs.

Though the food we learned to make may not have been the authentic chinese food that we found along the way in our travels, and was more of the americanized chinese food, it was all delicious and the experience was just wonderful. If you find yourself in Yangshuo, China stop by the Cloud 9 Restaurant and sign up for a cooking class with Linda!

Gong Bao Chicken


250 grams chicken breast, cut into cubes
vegetable oil
1 teaspoon rice wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 egg white
1 red chili pepper, seeds removed and cut into cubes
1 green pepper, seeds removed and cut into cubes
20 grams cucumber, seeds removed and cut into cubes
20 grams carrots, cut into cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small piece ginger, minced
10 pieces dried red chili, cut into 1 inch long small pieces
2 sprigs spring onion, cut into 1 inch long pieces
20 grams deep fried peanuts
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon
pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper
Sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon white pepper


Marinade the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon rice wine, 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 1 egg white, for about 5 minutes.
Heat wok till smoking and then add 3 tablespoons oil.
Add chicken to wok and cook until about 80% done, keeping oil in wok, remove chicken and set aside.
Stir fry garlic, ginger and dried chilis over low heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the rest of the vegetables except the spring onions and stir fry the vegetables until about half way done.
Add a tablespoon water and cook until water is evaporated.
Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, chicken bouillon, and sugar.
Return chicken to the wok and season with Sichuan pepper.
Add spring onion and peanuts to the wok and combine.
Add a few drops of sesame oil and white pepper, stir to combine.
Serve immediately.

Some more photos from Yangshuo


« Beijing Night Market
Mango Filled Coconut Cupcakes with Mango Buttercream »


  1. Posted on: 8-28-2011

    This cooking class (and entire scene actually) seems SURREAL! I love hearing about your adventures!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-29-2011

      Thanks Tiffany!! Yangshuo was a very surreal place, especially getting to cook there!

  2. Posted on: 8-28-2011

    Oh, wow! What a fabulous experience! Such gorgeous photos…and a lovely chicken dish~

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-29-2011

      Thanks Liz! It was an amazing experience. I never thought I would get to take a cooking class in China! It’s one of the memories I will always look back on and smile.

  3. Posted on: 8-28-2011

    Amazing pictures, wonderful travel and great experience! Maybe it wasn’t the traditional Chinese food, but it was homemade, so I’m sure it was better than the one that you could find in a Chinese US (or Italian) restaurant!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-29-2011

      Thanks Guilia! We were ok with the food being the Americanized food we have in the States because we missed that!! It was delicious and even better because we got to cook it in China! Never thought I’d have that experience!

  4. Posted on: 8-28-2011

    Beth your post look absolutely amazing..what a great photos, I am speechless, this is really beautiful!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-29-2011

      Thanks Sandra! Yangshuo was one of my favorite stops during our travels. The scenery and landscape there is like something out of a dream.

  5. Posted on: 8-29-2011

    What a beautiful place! I loved reading about your market and cooking class experience! The meat section would have been a hard scene though! 🙁 But I LOVE this chicken recipe! I’ll have to try it, it looks delicious!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-29-2011

      Thanks Manu! The meat market was so hard to see I couldnt even walk through it! AHHH

  6. Posted on: 8-29-2011

    Great photos BethMichelle, I’ve never been to this part of China although Gong Bao chicken is one of my faves. I prefer it with cashew nuts over peanuts though and I believe that might be the “original” if there was ever one.

    How cheap are those mangosteens compared to Sydney here lol

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-29-2011

      Thanks Chopin!! Maybe when I cook this at home I will use cashews instead! I think thats how it is over in NY too! The mangosteens were the most expensive fruit we had in China, 1 cost about 6 RMB (about 1USD) but every cent was worth it! We dont have mangosteens in Israel. Best. Fruit. Ever.

      • Posted on: 8-31-2011

        Mangosteens are really sweet and they would cost around US$2 – 3 per kg in Malaysia where I grew up. But they are still very expensive here in Australia 🙁

  7. Posted on: 8-29-2011

    Beth, I’m just so happy that you’re back blogging again. And WOW! You took a cooking lesson in China! I wish I can do that!! I’m married to a Chinese and I don’t even know how to cook Chinese food (minus Japanized version of Chinese food). And Yangshuo is beautiful – I’ve seen these scenery in movies and documentaries, but I bet it’s even more spectacular seeing with your eyes. I love the unique mountains in China and deep green mountains (Japan too). Are they rice fields? I hope you will share more and more pictures and stories of your trip. I’m keeping this recipe!!!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-29-2011

      Thanks Nami! Its good to be back blogging, I missed it but it was so hard to get back into the swing of things after being away for the whole summer! But now that Im back, Im back! This was the first time I ever made chinese food! You should have that husband of yours teach you some recipes so you can share them with us 🙂 There are TONS of rice fields, we went to visit the rice paddies and they were amazing. I will eventually get to post all about it!

  8. Posted on: 8-29-2011

    This was an amazing experience for you both I am sure and I bet you were happy to be able to share it with each other. Great pics and lovely story. This place is absolutely stunning… you did a great job capturing it. Well done Beth!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-29-2011

      Thanks Chef and Steward!! It was a great experience to share with my husband. We had such a fun time!

  9. Posted on: 8-29-2011

    Hi Beth!! What a beautiful place! I loved reading about your market and cooking class experience! Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos…I was transported to your beautiful China trip for just a few moments and I loved it!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-29-2011

      Thanks Daksha! Im glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Posted on: 8-30-2011

    Amazing photographs! Really lovely post and what a fun experience 🙂 We’ve been toying with the idea of doing a cooking class in Thailand and I think this seals the deal! Thanks so much for sharing

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-31-2011

      Thanks Parsley Sage. You should most definitely do a cooking class in Thailand! So fun!

  11. Posted on: 8-30-2011

    Your description of Yangshuo is just incredible! Between that and the beautiful photos I feel like I was there! The cooking class sounds just fab too. What an experience!

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 8-31-2011

      Thanks Katherine! It was so fun! We must sign up for a class soon!

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