CHONGQING CHICKEN (SICHUAN LA ZI JI)
If you’re looking for a cuisine that has it all, go no farther than Chongqing Chicken (or chongqing la zi ji –). Legendary, in a word. It’s a bit out there. It’s a savory treat (to me, anyway). Also, despite its fiery appearance, it’s quite delicious.
If you’re unaware, Chongqing, China’s Sichuan province capital, is home to roughly 30 million people. What an enormous amount of Chongqing chicken and other spicy hot foods are consumed in this city.
For fear of scorching your mouth, you might not have tried it if you saw it on a Chinese restaurant’s menu. Seeing so many chili peppers is daunting, but I adore it!
There are always more peppers than chicken when I order Chongqing Chicken at a restaurant. Because of this, I decided to make my version at home.
Many chicken dishes use red chili powder and dried red chili peppers, making it difficult for guests to find the bird’s actual meat. I didn’t like this at all. It seems like a waste of chiles to use them in this dish. I’ve made the necessary changes to maintain the dish’s dramatic appearance while adjusting my recipe.
FOR THE CHICKEN/MARINADE:
- 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tsp. of cornstarch
- 3/4 tsp. of salt
- 1 tsp. of oil
- 2 tsp. of Shaoxing wine
- 1 tsp. of dark soy sauce
FOR THE REST OF THE DISH:
- 3 tbsp. of oil
- 2 tbsp. of Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 slices of ginger (julienned)
- 5 cloves of garlic (sliced)
- 1 cup of whole dried red chilies (see note!)
- 1 tsp. of Shaoxing wine
- 1/2 tsp. of sugar
- 1 scallion (chopped)
- If you like, you can use fewer dried chilies. If you don’t break open some dry, hot peppers, this meal won’t be all that hot. Avoid breaking open more than six peppers in the meal if you prefer it spicy. Trust me; it will be hot enough.
- Start by rinsing and chopping the chicken. Toss the marinade ingredients with the chicken in a bowl. Set a timer for 30 minutes and go about your business.
- Complete the preparation of the remaining ingredients. 3 tablespoons of oil should be heated in a wok over high heat when you’re ready to begin cooking. The chicken should be added in a single layer and seared (DO NOT STIR at this point). Keep stirring and searing the chicken until it’s golden brown and crispy on all sides, paying close attention to the bottom of the pan. To achieve this, you’ll need a hot wok. After the heat has been turned off, move the chicken to a serving tray using a slotted spoon.
- At this time, there should be no more than 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan. If necessary, increase the quantity. Stir-fry the Sichuan peppercorns in a wok heated to a low simmer. Toast them for about a minute, or until they’re starting to become a little nutty—Cook for one minute after adding the ginger and garlic. Stir in the dried chiles, and cook for one more minute afterward. To prevent burning, keep an eye on the temperature.
- Add the chicken, Shaoxing wine, sugar, and scallions to the pan until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Stir-frying should be continued until all liquid has evaporated from the wok. Serve with rice and a vegetable.