Huājiāo Chicken – 花椒鸡

Inspired by a Recipe From
Thom Chu, Bridgehampton, NY

Ingredients:
1 lb of Chicken Thighs, boneless, skinless, cut in cubes
2 Tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine 绍兴酒
3-4 Serrano Peppers, cut in rings
3-4 Dried Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers 天津辣椒, crushed
3 stalks Scallions, cut in 2″ pieces
3 Tbsp Douban 豆瓣, minced
5 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Tbsp Ginger, minced
1 Tbsp whole Sichuan/Huājiāo Peppercorns 花椒
2 whole Star Anise
1-2 Tbsp Soy Sauce, to taste
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil, divided
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper, ground

Directions:

  • Season the Chicken with the Salt and Pepper.
  • Place in a bowl and marinate with the Shaoxing Wine for 20 minutes.
  • Heat a wok on very high and add no more than a quarter cup of oil. Heat the oil until you just start to see it smoke.
  • Stir fry the Chicken in the wok until browned, then remove and set to the side in a bowl. This is done to prevent the chicken from getting too soggy.
  • Quickly rinse and dry the wok and heat it up again very high with more Vegetable Oil. Make sure the wok is completely dry before putting in the oil or it will spatter hot oil around the stove.
  • When the oil is hot, add the Douban and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
  • Next add the Garlic and Ginger, and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
  • Add the Tianjin Chili, Sichuan Chili, and Star Anise; stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
  • Return the Chicken to the wok adding the Soy Sauce and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  • Add the Serrano Chili Peppers and stir-fry for a minute.
  • Finally add the Scallions, and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.

NOTES: I have eaten this under the name “Ahi Zhou Chicken” at a local Chinese restaurant and spent a week trying to figure out the recipe. Thom knew exactly what I was looking for and provided this. I slightly modified the recipe for this post, trying to identify specific ingredients like the types of Chilis used.

This is a Sichuan dish that is typified by the Sichuan Peppercorns.  If you have not had them before, be warned they chemically numb your tongue and act with the other Chili pepper in an amazing way that is numbing and spicy at the same time–or a the Chinese say “Málà”.  Málà 麻辣, literally meaning “numbing and spicy”, is a flavoring common in Sichuan cooking that is derived from these two ingredients working together.

The fresh chili used can be a Jalapeño or Thai Chili if you prefer. I picked Serrano because it has a thinner membrane than the Jalapeño and not as hot as the Thai Chili. Big thanks to Thom for the base of this recipe, and I hope my modifications are not too off from authenticity.

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