Food has a special meaning to the Chinese. We celebrate (just about) anything and everything with food. Chinese cuisine is uniquely defined by the vast geography represented by the people and culture across these lands. If you study Chinese cuisine carefully, you’ll be amazed at how diverse and different they are.
Take Cantonese cuisine for e.g. from the Guangdong region. They are characterised by the sweet note in their dishes and normally cooked through braise, stew or saute. What about the Sichuan cuisine? Think pepper, chilli – well known for hot, spicy and ma lat taste. That’s only 2 of the many Chinese cuisines that you may or may not have tasted.
This dish from Mr Peng’s Chinese kitchen – Hunan, is just brilliant because it’s simple and easy to make. You know I love simple dishes and this is a perfect example. The flavour of this dish was accentuated by home-made Sichuan Chilli Sauce which is punchy, numbing and spicy – just the way I like it. Extra sauce can be kept in airtight container and refrigerated for up to 1 week. It can also be used in other dishes if you like.
Chicken in Spicy Sauce (adapted from Qin Xie’s Hunan)
Serves 2 (as part of shared meal)
1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
2 tbsp corn flour
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp Sichuan chilli sauce (see recipe below)
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp shallot oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1/2 tsp sweet bean sauce (tian mian jiang)
2 tsp water
salt & sugar, to taste
(Sichuan Chilli Sauce)
2 tbsp crushed Sichuan peppercorn
4 tbsp chilli flakes
2 tsp sweet bean sauce (tian mian jiang)
2 tsp tomato puree
200 ml vegetable oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp chicken stock
(Sichuan Chilli Sauce)
1. In a heated wok, add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and chilli flakes. Stir the chilli flakes continuously and fry until the wok starts to smoke. While the chilli flakes continue to absorb the oil, add more oil 1 tbsp at a time until it forms a paste-like texture. This should take about 5 minutes.
2. Once the chilli flakes start to darken, take the wok off the heat. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and 3 tbsp of stock. Stir through and return the wok on medium heat.
3. Add all remaining ingredients (except white wine vinegar) with salt and sugar to taste. Stir through, adding more stock and oil if necessary to form a think but runny sauce.
4. Finally add the white wine vinegar and stir through just before taking off the heat. Set aside to cool before storing them in an airtight container.
(Chicken in Spicy Sauce)
1. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a wok until nearly smoking. Coat the chicken slices with cornflour, followed by egg.
2. Deep fry the chicken slices for minute or so, or until golden. Drain and set aside. Discard the oil.
3. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a clean bowl and adjust seasoning. If you prefer to be more spicy, add more Sichuan Chilli Sauce. Pour the sauce into the wok and heat through.
4. Return fried chicken to the wok and coat them with the sauce. Season with salt and sugar to taste. Dish up and serve with warm steamed rice.