Friday, June 27, 2014

Spicy Szechuan Chicken (La Zi Ji)


I adapted this recipe from Bee Yin Low's excellent cookbook Easy Chinese Recipes. The ingredients are short and sweet and the end result delicious. The tender pieces of chicken are so savory and spicy that they don't need to be drenched in sauce to pair well with steamed rice. Feel free to add more or less peppers, according to your own heat tolerance. 

Ingredients:
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2" dice
1 tbsp. rice wine
4 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
Vegetable oil

1 tbsp. chili oil
1 tbsp. Szechuan Peppercorn oil*
3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
10-20 dried red chiles (about 1 1/2" in length), each sliced lengthwise and seeded
1 tsp. chicken bouillon/powder
1/2 tsp. sugar
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced

*To make the Szechuan peppercorn oil:

Heat 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in a small skillet or saucepan. Heat over medium high until almost smoking. Turn off heat and add 1/4 cup of whole Szechuan peppercorns. Stir well, remove from the burner, and let sit for at least 2 hours. Strain the oil into a small bowl.

1. Toss the cubed chicken with 1 tbsp. rice wine, 4 tbsp. cornstarch, and 1 tsp. salt. Let marinate for 20-30 minutes. 

2. Add 1" of vegetable oil in a medium skillet or wok and heat over medium high heat. Add the chicken and stir briefly to break the pieces apart. Let fry for 5-8 minutes until lightly browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. 

3. Pour off all the oil in the pan, return to the heat, and add 1 tbsp. of chili oil and 1 tbsp. of Szechuan peppercorn oil. Add the sliced garlic and dried chiles, and stir fry briefly until fragrant. Add the chicken and season with the chicken powder, sugar and scallions. 

4. Plate and serve with steamed white rice.

Szechuan peppercorns and vegetable oil. 

Heat 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in a small-medium pan until very hot, turn off heat and stir in 1/4 cup of Szechuan peppercorns. Remove the pan from the burner and let sit for at least 2 hours. 

Strain the Szechuan peppercorn oil into a small bowl.

 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Trim fat off and cut into 1 1/2" pieces.

Add 1 tbsp. rice wine, 4 tbsp. cornstarch and 1 tsp. salt to the chicken, stir well, then let marinate for 20-30 minutes.  

Szechuan peppercorn oil, rice wine, chili oil, chicken powder, and sugar.

Dried red chiles, each sliced in half lengthwise, and seeded. 

Red chiles, sliced garlic and chopped scallions.  

Fry the marinated chicken in hot oil for 5-8 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through. Drain the chicken on a paper towel-lined plate.

Pour off all the oil from the pan, return to the burner (medium heat), then add 1 tbsp. chili oil and 1 tbsp. Szechuan peppercorn oil.  Add the sliced garlic and dried chiles and toss briefly until fragrant.

Add the chicken, sugar, and chicken powder. Toss well to combine.  

Add the scallions.  

Remove to a serving platter and serve with steamed white rice.


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