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Chengdu Chicken

Chengdu Chicken

A typical Szechuan dish, named after the capital of the province.


1/2 lb boneless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons tapioca starch (or cornstarch)

1 teaspoon dry sherry or cooking wine
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or rice vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons water

1/2 bunch spinach
2 slices ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons hot bean sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground Szechwan peppercorn
Oil for stir-frying and deep-frying


Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Remove any fat and cut the chicken into cubes.

In a small bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients except for the tapioca starch or cornstarch. Add to the chicken. Add the starch and marinate the chicken for twenty minutes.

While chicken is marinating, pre-heat heat the oil for deep-frying to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, prepare the sauce and vegetables. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside. Mix together the 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1 1/2 tablespoons water to form a "slurry" and set aside.

Blanch the spinach very briefly in boiling water, until the leaves turn bright green and just start wilting. Remove and drain thoroughly.

Peel the skin off the ginger, cut into thin slices, and mince. Smash the garlic, peel and cut into strips. Chop the green onion on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces.

When the oil is hot, carefully add the chicken cubes into the wok. Deep-fry until the chicken is about 80 percent cooked, then remove and drain on paper towels.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon oil from the wok. Add the spinach, and sprinkle a bit of salt on top. As soon as the spinach wilts, remove it from the wok and set aside.

Clean out the wok and heat three tablespoons oil. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onion. Stir briefly and add the hot bean sauce. Return the chicken to the wok. Stir-fry for a minute, then push to the sides and add the sauce mixture in the middle of the wok. Turn up the heat and add the cornstarch and water mixture to the wok, stirring quickly to thicken.

Serve over spinach and sprinkle with ground Szechuan pepper.

Yield: 2-4 Servings

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