Sichuan Chicken with Sesame Sauce

700 grams bone-in skin-on chicken thigh (*see footnote 1)
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn
2 green onion, chopped
2 pieces ginger
2 green onion
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons black rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon Chinese sesame paste (or natural peanut butter)
2 tablespoons homemade chili oil with 1 to 2 tablespoons of its “sediment”
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated roasted Sichuan peppercorn (*see footnote 2)
(Optional) 1 cucumber, sliced into thin strips
(Optional) 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Turn to medium heat.

Halve green onion. Chop some of the green parts and use them to garnish the dish later.
Add Shaoxing wine, Sichuan peppercorn, white part of green onion, and ginger to the boiling water. Mix well. Add chicken. Cook until bringing to a simmer. Turn to low heat. Continue cooking at a very gentle simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes.
While cooking the chicken, prepare a large bowl of ice water.

(Very important) When the chicken is just cooked, immediately transfer it to the ice bath. Add more ice if necessary. Set aside and let cool completely. This step tightens the chicken skin and firms up the texture.

Combine soy sauce, black rice vinegar, and sugar in a bowl. Mix well until the sugar dissolves.

Add sesame paste to another bowl. Gradually blend in the sauce from last step and mix with a spoon, until the sesame paste is evenly blended and no lumps remain.

Add chili oil, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorn. Mix well.
Right before serving, combine chicken and spicy sesame sauce. Toss to mix well. Spread cucumber over a deep plate. Transfer chicken on top of cucumber and garnish with sesame seeds and green onion, if using. (*see footnote 3)

Serve as a cold appetizer, or as a main over noodles or rice.

1. You can use chicken leg or breast, alternatively. If you use chicken breast, shred the meat instead of cutting it. It will yield a better flavor and texture this way.

2. Roasted peppercorns will have a better taste and mouthfeel. To roast peppercorns, add 1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil) to a wok (or skillet) and heat over medium heat until warm. Add Sichuan peppercorns. Cook until the peppercorns turn dark and you can smell a very pungent aroma. Transfer the peppercorns to a mortar and grate them with a pestle. The oil can be saved for cooking (for Sichuan food or general stir-fry).

3. Authentic Sichuan recipes require the sauce to be added just before serving, but I found that adding sauce and then letting the chicken marinate for a few hours makes the dish even tastier. It pulls some moisture out of the chicken, but won’t cause a big problem. Add the sauce beforehand or not; it’s totally up to you.

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