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Stir-fried Chengdu Chicken

Stir-fried Chengdu Chicken

This simpler version of the classic Szechwan dish is stir-fried instead of deep-fried.


  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, 7 to 8 ounces each
  • Marinade:
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, black if possible
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup hot water or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Other:
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 tablespoons shredded celery
  • 1 hot red pepper
  • 4 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed
  • 2 tablespoons hot bean sauce or paste*
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground Szechwan peppercorn or coriander


Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. In a non-reactive bowl, add the rice wine or sherry, salt and tapioca starch. Marinate the chicken cubes for 20 to 25 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, prepare the sauce and vegetables. In a small bowl, combine the rice wine or sherry, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and chicken broth. Whisk in the cornstarch.

Mince the ginger and garlic. Shred the celery. Finely chop the red pepper.

Heat the wok over medium-high to high heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chili pepper. Stir-fry until the skin begins to blister, then add the chicken cubes. Stir-fry until the chicken changes color and is about 80 percent cooked through. Remove the chicken.

Add the hot bean sauce. Stir-fry briefly, then add the garlic and ginger. Add the sauce in the middle of the pan, stirring quickly to thicken. Add the chicken back into the pan. Mix everything together. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the shredded celery. Stir in the Szechuan peppercorn or coriander. Simmer for a few minutes. Serve hot, garnished with the remaining 2 tablespoons of celery.

Yield: 4 Servings

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