Sichuan Chicken

18. August 2008 Chicken 0

Sometimes, the best part of leaving filthy New York City is coming home to it. A day after I returned, I picked up my latest farmer’s share and got back in the groove of cooking again. In the Philippines, all the food we ate was done for us whether it was from a restaurant, from a street vendor or from one of my many relatives who cooked us a meal. When I picked up my share of scallions and green peppers, I thought of a stir-fry dish that would be easy to make for my first dinner back.

I was eating a lot of pork while I was in the Philippines so it wasn’t weird when I wanted to eat something with chicken. I had already gotten the sushi out of the way my first night back–my way of cleansing my system after returning from a vacation–and a quick toss of greens with breast fillets was a no-brainer as a next step towards getting back to my routine.

I marinated the chicken here overnight, but you can certainly spend less time and just marinate while you chop the rest of the ingredients. I also skipped the peanuts and used sherry vinegar instead of Chinese vinegar for the sauce and that’s why my version is paler than the traditional one. You can use balsamic vinegar as well to get that dark color.

2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, without skin, sliced in smaller pieces
1 green bell pepper, seeded, chopped
4 scallions, white parts only, chopped
4 garlic cloves
a small knob of ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
3 Thai chiles, seeded
1 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
a handful of roasted unsalted peanuts (optional)
peanut oil

For the marinade:
2 tbsps light soy sauce
2 tbsps rice wine
2 tbsps cornstarch
1 tbsp water

For the sauce:
3 tbsps sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsps sherry vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp water

1. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a large container with the chicken pieces. Mix well and set aside in the fridge until ready to cook.
2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. Using a large skillet, add some peanut oil and heat over a high flame. When the oil is hot but not yet smoking, add the chiles and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry briefly until they are crisp and the oil is spicy and fragrant. Try not to burn them.
4. Add the chicken and the bell pepper and fry over a high flame, stirring constantly. As soon as the chicken pieces have separated, add the ginger, garlic, and scallions and continue to stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through and white. Feel free to drizzle some more peanut oil to add some moisture.
5. Give the sauce a stir and add it to the skillet, continuing to stir and toss. As soon as the sauce has become thick and shiny, add the peanuts, if using and stir them in.

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