Considering I have been going to absolute town in my kitchen lately, it is rather poor of me that things have been quite sparse on the recipe front [read: non-existent] here on the blog. Therefore, I thought it was about time that I share another simple yet delicious mid-week meal.
Given that not so long ago I denounced chicken, you are probably going to roll your eyes when I tell you that the recipe I am about to share is based on, wait for it…chicken. Again. How embarrassing for me.
Perhaps more surprising is the fact that this dish packs a bit of a punch. The kind of punch that my pathetically weak palate does not tend to handle all that well.
…I am a sorry excuse for an Asian indeed.
That being said, it is certainly not for the lack of trying and I have always wanted to love spicy food. Particularly given Mumford can down chillies as though she has a mouth made of steel. I recall her taking me for Chinese one lunch time in Hong Kong when I was a little girl. Hell bent on demonstrating to her that I could handle chilli, I spent the entire meal secretly dipping the spice-laden morsels into my strategically hidden teacup for a rinse prior to popping them into my mouth. Not quite the same as actually being able to handle spice…but close enough.
In my own defence, I can handle heat in small amounts. However, I generally do my best to shy away from chilli-heavy dishes. That was until recently, when a friend invited me to Bashan Hunanese Restaurant in London’s Soho and I was too proud to admit that I am not spicy food’s number one fan. Cornered.
Funnily enough, it was that dinner that converted me, as I found I really quite liked the gentle warmth given up by the dried chillies…and absolutely loved the numbing heat from the Sichuan peppercorns. So when I saw some for sale in Whole Foods recently, I had to have them. More importantly, I had to use them.
And this is it! My first foray into spicy food in my home kitchen. I feel like a better Asian already! Simply served with steamed Basmati rice and a scattering of coriander, I have found that it really makes for a straightforward, tasty and exciting mid-week dinner. Plus there is usually enough to pack up for lunch the next day. Certainly beats Pret.
Stir-Fried Chilli Chicken
For the Chicken Marinade
750g Skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into 1cm pieces
2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp corn flour
Pinch of ground white pepper
For the Stir-Fry
6 Long dried chillies, halved
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 Tsp Sichuan peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 1/2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
1/3 Cup chicken stock
1/4 Cup Chinkiang vinegar*
2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tsp sesame oil
2 Spring onions, sliced into 1cm lengths
Small handful of unsalted cashew nuts
Steamed Basmati rice
Fried shallots (optional)
For the marinade, combine the wine, soy sauce, corn flour and white pepper in a bowl with the chicken and toss to coat before setting aside.
Heat a wok over high heat. Add the chillies and toast them before setting them aside. Add the peanut oil and the Sichuan peppercorns, stir-frying until fragrant. Add the chicken and ginger [in two separate batches to ensure that it browns as opposed to steaming!]. Stir fry until the chicken is cooked through and golden.
Return all the chicken to the pan, along with the chicken stock, vinegar, wine, light soy, sesame oil and spring onions. Bring to the boil and add the toasted chillies and cashew nuts. Stir to combine and serve with the steamed rice and a scattering of coriander.
*I adore Chinkiang! It is a Chinese black vinegar that should be available in any good Asian grocer.