Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Chengdu Chicken/ Chen du ze jee

This is yet another one of my favourites from Sunflower Food Galore. Szechuan food is often described as 'hot and numbing', this chicken dish certainly is. It is also fragrant, from the dried orange peel. Szechuan peppercorns cause a slight numbing sensation to the mouth, hence the 'numbing' title.

I haven't really touched the recipe, except when I made it the second time I used the liquid from soaking the orange peel in the recipe.

I think this makes an excellent winter dish, especially if you are tired of eating the usual  heavy casseroles and stodge to warm you up.

500g chicken
2 - 3 tbsp of cooking oil
2 tbsp of chilli bean paste
1 small thumb of ginger
1 small piece of chinese dried mandarin/tangerine peel
1 tbsp of Szechuan peppercorn (whole)
1/2 - 2 tsp of crushed chilli flakes
2 - 3 tsp of chinese black rice vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar)
1 - 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
2 tsp sugar
1 heaped tsp of cornflour
 To garnish
1/2 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
2 stalks of spring onion, finely chopped to garnish

Soak the orange peel in some warm water for about 20 minutes until softened. Meanwhile, peel and finely chop or grate the the ginger. Cut the orange peel into very thin shreds, I find it easiest to use a pair of scissors.
Cut the chicken into small pieces.
Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the whole Szechuan peppercorns, and fry for a few minutes until the oil is fragrant. Remove the peppercorns and discard. Add the chicken and chilli flakes, and stir fry until the chicken is golden brown. Add in the ginger, orange peel and chilli bean paste. Cook for two more minutes, and then add the vinegar, wine and sugar. Meanwhile, slake the cornflour in a little water (mix together to make a thin paste).
 Add some water- how much depends on whether or not you like a saucy or dry dish. I like to use the orange peel soaking liquid. Add the cornflour paste, and stir until it the sauce has thickened.
Transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle over the spring onions and ground peppercorns

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