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 prophecy that will bring this on, but the sight of a Kung Fu master working their magic as they enter a deep concentration and employ the highest level of inner energy control to make mince meat 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 3 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 5, the Warriors are surprisingly well 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’ 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.
GONG BAO CHICKEN
- 500 g Chicken thighs, remove skin and bones and cut into bite size chunks
- 2 cloves 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
- 40 g unsalted peanuts
- 2 tablespoons 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.
- Meanwhile, heat a dry pan over medium heat. Throw in the peanuts and toast for several minutes, until they are golden in colour and releasing an earthy aroma.
– In the same pan, put the oil in a skillet on a medium heat. Add peppercorns and dried chilies and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and the chilies turn brown. It will only take a few seconds.
– Turn the heat up high and add the chicken. Cook until chicken is cooked on both sides.
– Add garlic, ginger, scallions and peanuts and continue to stir fry until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and pour remaining soy sauce over the chicken. Serve with boiled rice or noodles.
The Shaolin Warriors are in The Olympia Theatre until Sunday night.
This piece is also available to read in today’s copy of The Ticket in The Irish Times.