Huajiao Jiding (Cold Chicken with Sichuan Pepper)

This dish is similar to Lazi Ji, but is served as a cold dish. Because it is a cold dish, caramel is used for coloring instead of soy sauce which would make the chicken too dark. The flavors go well with cold weather, and this dish often accompanies glasses of bai jiu.

  • Chicken, leg (250 g)
  • Chilli peppers, whole & dried (20 g)*
  • Sichuan peppercorns (2 g)*
  • Salt (4 g)
  • Sugar (3 g)
  • Ginger, peel (5 g)
  • Cooking wine (30 g)
  • Scallions (25 g)
  • Sesame oil (5 g)
  • Gourmet powder (1 g)
  • White pepper, ground (2 g)
  • Caramel (30 g)
  • Stock (200 g)
  • Oil

*Amounts are approximate.

Preparation:

  1. Debone the chicken leg. Cut into 2 cm cubes.
  2. Cut the green part of the scallion into large sections. Smash the sections with the flat side of a knife or clever. Squeeze the juice out of scallions with hands into a bowl.
  3. Smash peel of ginger with clever.
  4. Marinate chicken in scallion, ginger, salt, cooking wine and white pepper powder.
  5. Cut dried chilli peppers into chunks. Toss to remove seeds.

Cooking:

  1. Add a little oil to marinate chicken to help it separate.
  2. Heat oil for deep frying (the chicken will be fried twice, the first fry will be at a lower temperature).
  3. Deep fry chicken cubes with scallions and ginger for about 3 minutes. The chicken should still be white, but the ginger and scallion should be fragrant.
  4. Remove chicken with a strainer. Pick out ginger and scallion.
  5. Increase temperature and refry chicken, stirring constantly, until golden (about 20 seconds). The chicken should be crisp, but not dry.
  6. Make caramel:
    1. Heat a little oil over a low flame.
    2. Add sugar and stir fry until sugar is liquid and dark reddish brown. Stir constantly.
    3. When little bubbles appear, add a little water. Be careful not to burn the sugar.
    4. Stir fry caramel for a while longer, then pour into a bowl.
  7. Add oil to wok. Stir fry dry chilies over low heat until red.
  8. Add Sichuan peppercorns and stir fry until chillies are just beginning to brown. Be careful not to burn the chillies!
  9. Add chicken and stir fry quickly.
  10. Add cooking wine and stock/water (approximately half of the chicken).
  11. Add caramel, a little salt, a little sugar and cooking wine. The resulting color should be light reddish brown.
  12. Reduce to very low heat and simmer until sauce is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  13. Cook until the liquid is absorbed and remaining oil is clear. Add oil if needed. (Stir frequently at the end to avoid burning the chillies.)
  14. Taste and season as needed. Add sesame oil. (The result should be spicy, peppery, salty and sweet.)
  15. Remove and allow to cool. When cooled, add additional oil if needed and plate.

Dish checklist:

  • Is the chicken not too crispy, but not too soft?
  • Is the color reddish brown?
  • Is the flavor primarily spicy and peppery followed by salty and sweet?

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