There is a lovely description of this crispy, hot and numbing dish saying that you need to find the chicken among chili peppers. This shows people’s love toward those savory chicken cubes and also how many chili peppers will be used in this dish. That’s 100% true when you visit the most authentic Szechuan restaurants. For homemade version, feel free to adjust the amount of the chili peppers so that we do not need to work so hard to finding the meat.
Dry-drying is a unique Chinese cooking method. The texture of dry-fried meat is similar to that of grilled ones, with a hint of smoky flavour. Seasonings are added after dry-frying. The method works to remove the initial water content in the ingredients and help them to absorb the seasonings.
Some restaurants may call it Chongqing Chicken since it is thought to be quite popular in Geleshan (歌乐山) area in the city of Chongqing. Although this one is less famous outside Szechuan, it is considered even better than kung Pao Chicken for many Szechuan people.
- 500g chick thigh with bones removed (this call for about 700g drumsticks)
- 2-3 cups cooking oil for deep-drying
- 1 and half cups dried red chili, roughly chopped干红辣椒
- 1 and half tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns四川花椒
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced蒜末
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced姜末
- 2-3 spring onions (cut into 5cm long, white and green part separated)
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar白糖
- 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds (optional)
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce生抽
- 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine料酒
- 2 teaspoons corn flour玉米淀粉
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper powder 白胡椒粉
- Cut the dried chili peppers and then soak the peppers in water for 15 minutes. Soak the dry chilies in the and then fry over slow fire for a short time can greatly reduce the raw spiciness and improve the aroma.
- Remove the bone of the chicken thighs and then cut into small cubes. In a large bowl, marinate the chicken cubes with all the marinade sauce. Mix well and set aside for around 15 minutes.
- Heat up oil in wok or pan for deep-frying. Heat until really hot (you can see bubbles when you put a chopstick in). Add the chicken cubes in and fry until golden brown. Transfer out. Fry the chicken by batches – it uses less oil. After add the chicken cubes, let it stay for a short time (possible about 1- 2 minutes) until one side is browned and then slightly stir the chicken and fry the other side. for the same amount of time. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from wok and place the cooked chicken on the kitchen towel.
- Transfer dry chilies out of water. Get a clean wok and add only 1/2 tablespoon of oil (used deep-frying oil is perfectly fine.) and then fry the peppers for 1-2 minutes over slowest fire until most of them becomes dark red. Add Szechuan peppercorns in and continue frying for another 1 minute over slowest fire. Push the spices to one side and add 1/2 tablespoon of oil in wok and fry ginger, scallion white and garlic until aromatic.
- Return the chicken cubes, add roasted white sesame seeds (optional), sugar, salt and scallion green sections. Mix well and serve immediately.
- I would use chicken thigh for this dish because of it is the most tender and juicy part of the chicken. You can cook them with bones if you do not mind separate the bones when enjoying the dish. Chicken breast is not recommended.
- You can adjust the amount of chilies depending on the level of your tolerance of the spiciness. Reducing the chilies will not influence the taste very much.