Chingqing Chicken with Chilies

1 pound skinless chicken (dark or white), cut into smallish, 1-inch bites
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon Chinese light soy sauce
4 tablespoons potato starch (or cornstarch)
1 tablespoon chili powder (Sichuan or, for a spicier version, cayenne)
1 tablespoon ground, roasted Sichuan pepper
1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon ginger, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chili flakes (Chinese or Korean)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
At least 3 cups/3 ounces dried red chilies (Sichuan, Tianjin or other medium-hot chili)
1 teaspoon red Sichuan peppercorns
1 teaspoon green Sichuan peppercorns (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar
4 scallions, roughly chopped

Marinate chicken pieces in Shaoxing wine and soy sauce while you prepare the other ingredients.

Mix potato starch, chili powder, ground Sichuan pepper and salt in a large sealable baggie. Add the chicken pieces, leaving any accumulated juices behind. Shake the chicken pieces in the potato starch mixture until they are lightly coated.

Heat wok on high heat until starting to smoke and add enough canola or vegetable oil to deep-fry the chicken. If your wok or pan is large enough, you can fry it in one batch, but do not overcrowd the chicken. When oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and reduce heat to medium; the frying process should produce a medium bubble. When the chicken pieces appear to be cooked through, remove them from the oil. Return the oil to a high heat and add back the chicken. This time they should finish frying at a high heat, about 375°F (190°C), with a large, fast bubble. Fry just until the chicken is crispy and golden brown, then remove to drain on a paper towel.

Pour off oil, clean wok and return to heat. When wok starts to smoke, add the 4 tablespoons oil. Heat briefly on medium heat, then add the garlic and ginger and cook until softened. Stir-fry vigorously from now on, as you don’t want anything to brown. Add the chili flakes and sesame seeds, stirring until lightly toasted, then add the whole chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir until fragrant, then add the sugar.
Add back the chicken along with the scallions, and stir-fry until well mixed. Plate with chili peppers prominently displayed.

Leave a comment