A traditional Asian dish from chef Fuchsia Dunlop. "As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the ultimate chicken dishes: quick and easy to make and thrillingly delicious. The cooking method is xiao chao, "small stir-fry," in which all the ingredients are simply added to the wok in succession. With its kick of scorched chili, tingle of Sichuan pepper and gentle sweet-sour sauce, it's a typically Sichuanese combination of flavours. The crunchy peanuts, juicy spring onions and succulent chicken also give it a delightful taste. You'll find versions of this dish, often known in English as Kung Po chicken, on virtually every Chinese restaurant menu, but this is the real Chengdu version."
2 boneless chicken breasts, with or without skin (11–12 oz. in total)
3 garlic cloves
An equivalent amount of ginger
5 spring onions, white parts only
A handful of dried chilies (about 10)
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
3 oz. roasted peanuts
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp Shaoxing wine
1-1/2 tsp potato flour
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp potato flour
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp chicken stock or water
Step 1: Cut the chicken as evenly as possible into 1/2" strips, then cut these into small cubes. Place in a small bowl. Add the marinade ingredients together with the chicken and 1 tbsp water, mix well and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
Step 2: Peel and thinly slice the garlic and ginger and chop the spring onions into chunks as long as their diameter (to match the chicken cubes). Snip the chilies in half or into sections. Discard their seeds as far as possible. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Step 3: Heat a seasoned wok over a high flame. Add the oil with the chilies and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry briefly until the chilies are darkening but not burned (remove the wok from the heat if necessary to prevent overheating).
Step 4: Quickly add the chicken and stir-fry over a high flame, stirring constantly. As soon as the chicken cubes have separated, add the ginger, garlic and spring onions and continue to stir-fry until they are fragrant and the meat just cooked through (test one of the larger pieces to make sure).
Step 5: Give the sauce a stir and add it to the wok, continuing to stir and toss. As soon as the sauce has become thick and shiny, add the peanuts, stir them in and serve.
See more recipes from Fuchsia Dunlop.
Reprinted with permission from Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice (2013 W.W. Norton).