What exactly is Szechuan Chicken? With its distinctive blend of red chili, cayenne peppers, fresh ginger, corn, garlic, cornstarch and sweet soy sauce, Szechuan Chicken has a spicy yet sweet taste with a hint of sweetness. Those who have a high tolerance for spicy dishes especially spicily spiced ones may enjoy this particular dish. Szechuan is the Chinese translation of Saui in Japan. This is where the legend of the chef who created the worlds’ first hot soup was born.
The basic ingredients of this popular dish are boneless skinless chicken breasts, scallions, garlic cloves, green onions, bell pepper, cilantro and bamboo shoots. The boneless chicken breasts are marinated in Chinese vinegar for an hour or more in water and then prepared with all the above ingredients except for the garlic cloves. Then it is placed under the grill. The garlic cloves give the mixture a slight scent of garlic. When the meat cooks, you will notice the aroma of the garlic as well as the buttery, salty and sweet flavors.
For the sauces, there are two main ones. The sweet and sour is a fermented vinegar and is commonly referred to as “bingi”. The other is a sweet and sour solution that is made by blending vinegar and soy sauce. Both have distinct characteristics. Let’s take a look at these two components separately.
A common feature of Szechuan Chicken is the use of fresh ginger. Ginger gives this unique recipe its signature smell and flavor. Ginger plays a major role as one of the Szechuan herbs that maintains proper body balance during the cooking process. In this recipe, the ginger can be extracted from the ginger slices and mixed with soy sauce and white vinegar or even wine.
Another spice added to Szechuan Chicken is the peppercorn. Peppercorns are dark in color and have various flavors. The common flavors of these are nutty, garlic and cinnamon. The combination of these spices with the chicken meat results in a delectable and complex chicken dish.
Szechuan Chicken Facts
To make this unique Szechuan Chicken recipe spicier, the bird can be dipped in a hot oil such as beef lard or duck fat. This adds to the savor and complexity of the dish as the fats add extra heat. Spicy red chili paste is also added as a finishing touch to these dishes. It enhances the spices and provides a wonderfully rich heat that lingers on your tongue. The Szechuan peppercorns and chili paste make these dishes really heavy, but at the same time very satisfying.
Ginger is used in many recipes and it adds a wonderful flavor to what is Szechuan chicken. Because the chicken is marinated overnight in ginger juice and sweet sauces, the chicken will be kept in optimum condition. The night before, just boil the chicken in water with a sweet soy and white vinegar mix. This mixture will make a perfect marinade for the bird.
For the last step, prepare all of the ingredients, except for the green onions. Wash the green onions and slice them into half inch pieces. Then cut the ginger into chunks and add those to the marinade along with the chicken. Set the fire to medium heat and then cover the pot tightly. All of the ingredients should be mixed together and placed into the cooker for heating through out the night.