Chongqing chicken, or 辣子鸡丁 (lazijiding) is a fragrant Sichuan dish with mouthwatering spice and numbing Sichuan peppercorns.
Traditionally, this chicken is deep fried to lock in juices and flavor. This version uses marinade to create tender and juicy meat with much less oil.
Marinating means soaking meat in salt (in this case, soy sauce) and acid (vinegar) to break down proteins on the surface of the meat. This lets the meat take on more moisture and flavor when it cooks. Delicious!
4 tablespoons yellow wine
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon Chinese vinegar
2 tablespoons chili oil
4 chicken thighs (500g)
2 tablespoon of peanut oil
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
6 dried red chili peppers
4 cloves of garlic
2 cm piece of ginger
1 sprig of scallion
STEP 1: MARINATE THE CHICKEN
In a large container, combine 2 tablespoons each of wine, soy sauce, vinegar, and oil. Cut the chicken into 2 cm chunks, then add to the liquid and mix well. Cover the bowl and marinade for at least 2 hours or overnight.
STEP 2: DRAIN THE Marinade
When ready to cook, drain the marinade away from the chicken. Wait 10 minutes for more liquid to separate, then drain it again. This drying out will help the meat sear in the pan.
STEP 3: PREPARE THE AROMATICS
While the chicken dries, chop the scallion, garlic, and ginger finely. Then, to make a spicier dish, cut apart two chilies to use their seeds, or for a milder dish leave the peppers whole. Set aside.
STEP 4: Mix the sauce
Mix together the remaining soy sauce and wine and set aside, in easy reach.
STEP 5: SEar the chicken
Place a wok over high heat. Add the oil and let it heat up. Add the chicken to the hot wok and stir to evenly coat with the oil. Then spread the chicken out evenly across the bottom of the wok in a single layer. Let it cook undisturbed on high in order to char.
STEP 6: Add the aromatics
Check the bottom side of the chicken – if it’s brown, then turn the chicken pieces over to brown the other side. At this time, add the aromatics. Mix them up so they can fry in the oil next to the chicken.
STEP 7: Finish
Add the sauce and the scallion once the chicken has browned on both sides. Stir quickly. The sauce should caramelize over the chicken. Keep stirring until most of the moisture has evaporated. Turn off the heat and serve.