Firebird Chicken

the chicken and the marinade:
12 oz. chicken breast, sliced into ¼-inch thick pieces
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

For the rest of the dish:
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 scallions, sliced at an angle into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup bamboo shoots
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons Sacha sauce (Chinese BBQ sauce)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chili oil (preferably with a good mix of both oil and toasted pepper flakes)

Optional auxiliary sauce kicker:
1/3 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, plus just enough water to make a slurry (optional)

Add the chicken to a bowl, along with 2 tablespoons water. Use your hands to massage the water into the chicken until it is absorbed. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients to the chicken, mix well and set aside.

Heat your wok until almost smoking, and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Spread the chicken one layer deep, and let sear for about 20 seconds. Turn the chicken and let the other side sear for another 20 seconds. Then, immediately transfer back into the marinade bowl.

Add another tablespoon of oil and ginger to the wok, and let caramelize for 10 seconds. Working quickly, stir in the garlic and scallions. After 15 seconds, add the seared chicken (and any juices from the bowl), and the bamboo shoots.

The wok should be on the highest heat and should be searing hot for this next step. Pour the tablespoon of Shaoxing wine around the wok and quickly add the Sacha sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and chili oil. It’s a good idea to combine all these ingredients in a bowl before you turn on your stove, so that you’re not fumbling with jars and bottles while cooking. Note: If this sounds too spicy for you, you can add chili oil to taste rather than the entire amount called for.

Stir-fry everything to combine—at this point, it’s a glistening, spicy, delicious party. The sauces should combine nicely and the cornstarch from the chicken marinade should thicken the sauce slightly. Add a tablespoon of chicken stock if the sauce is too thick. If you like a lot of sauce, add in the optional auxiliary sauce kicker ingredients at this point, and stir fry for another 20 seconds. Plate and serve over rice!

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