Kung Pao Chicken and Egg Rolls

Lorelai, Rory, Christopher and Dean have Chinese takeout for dinner on the night before the ball. It includes Kung Pao chicken and egg rolls.

Kung Pao chicken (in Mandarin, Gongbao jiding) is a spicy stir-fried Chinese dish traditionally made from cubed chicken, peanuts, spring onion, and chilli peppers. It is a classic of Szechuan cuisine dating to the 19th century. It’s thought to be named after Qing Dynasty official Ding Baozhen (1820-1886), and his title of Gongbao (“palace guardian”); his surname Ding sounds like jiding (“chicken”), but also can be read “small cube”, like the cubes of chicken in this dish. Westernised versions of Kung Pao chicken can be much sweeter and stickier than the original, with more vegetables, and sprinkled with roasted peanuts; it’s a standard of Westernised Chinese cuisine.

Egg rolls are an appetiser, part of American Chinese cuisine. They are cylindrical rolls filled with shredded cabbage and chopped pork, encased in a thick wheat-flour wrapper, fried in hot oil. Oddly enough, there isn’t any egg in an egg roll. Similar to the Chinese spring roll, they are thought to have arisen in the Chinese-American community of 1930s New York, and are a staple of American Chinese cuisine, often served free by Chinese restaurants.

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