An authentic version of this emblematic Sichuanese dish – notably different from what is usually found in most Asian fast-food stalls.
Even though the list of ingredients is long, this recipe takes very little time to make. The amount of oil called for may seem daunting but, it is however used to brown the peanuts as well as to poach the chicken. This technique of “half cooking” in hot oil tenderizes the meat and is characteristic of Sichuanese cuisine.
- 200 gr de-boned chicken, diced into 1 cm pieces
- 1 egg white
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- Salt and pepper
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup raw peanuts or raw cashews
- 1 tsp Sichuan pepper, whole
- 15 dry chilies, whole
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 Tbsp ginger, chopped
- 2 green shallots, diced into 1 cm pieces
- 5 small fresh green hot chilies, whole
- 2 Tbsp hot, soya paste (e.g., Toban Jan)
- 1 red bell pepper, cut in 2 cm squares
- 3 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar or rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp honey
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- 1 tsp cornstarch
Place the egg white, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk and add diced chicken. Mix well and set aside.
Assemble all the ingredients and have them handy.
Pour the oil into the wok. Heat to medium then add the peanuts and cook until golden. Remove the peanuts from the wok and set aside.
Add the chicken to the oil and cook on medium until almost cooked and barely golden.
Pour the chicken and the oil into a colander, placed above a large bowl.
Return 3 Tbsp oil to the wok. Heat on high for a few seconds. Add the whole Sichuan peppercorns and the chilies. Cook, stirring continuously until the chilies are well cooked and almost black.
Add the garlic, ginger, shallots, hot green chilies, hot soya paste, and bell pepper.
Sauté 1 minute until odorant.
Add the cooked chicken and peanuts. Sauté 30 seconds.
Add vinegar and honey. Sauté 30 seconds.
Mix the cornstarch into the stock. Add to the wok and mix well. Pour into a dish as soon as the sauce thickens.
Generally, the chilies are not eaten; they serve only to make the dish richly aromatic.
Fragrant, delicate, with a long-lasting but inoffensive acidity, black vinegar is made from double-fermented black glutinous rice. The older Shanxi black vinegar, Lao Chen Cu, is sealed and aged for a deep, caramel-like flavour. The newer Zhenjiang vinegar is sweeter and more forgiving. Use Zhenjiang vinegar for your Sichuan recipes unless aged vinegar is specifically called for. Never use balsamic vinegar.