Fist of Kitchen presents… Eat it: China!

Recooking "The Art of Chinese Cooking" by The Benedictine Sisters of Peking, 1956 | Remixed by Fist of Kitchen 2013

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Sichuan Flower Pepper Chicken with spaceman ken

川 花 椒
Ken's Chicken

Wow! What a flavor. Our guest-cook spaceman Ken made a chicken and pepper meal that he loved while living in Seattle. I’m not great with very hot spiciness, but this heat can be modulated—and it’s addictive.

Sichuan peppers aren’t related to chili peppers—they’re the prickly ash tree berry—and were traditionally used with ginger to bring heat to Sichuan food before the Columbian exchange brought capsicum annum to China. (That’s a free pass for green bell pepper haters by the way.)

Scary Sichuan Pepper Dragon! They have much more flavor than a one-note heat. They’re kind of tingly, with chemical-feeling like you get from licking a battery (but in a good way, I promise). They have a citrus note that you don’t get often; it’s like grapefruit or pomelo…but not quite. They’re also a bit linseed-y or “furniture” flavored. Looking up their chemistry on Wikipedia, the limonene myrcene components explain the citrus: those are the same compounds you find in aromatic hops. The battery tingle comes from 3% hydroxy alpha sanshool.

  • 1 lb. half-inch cubed chicken breast
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 10 dried chilis, cut about ½-inch long
  • 2 cloves thinly sliced garlic
  • 2 inches thinly sliced ginger
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tbsp. Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
  • salt to taste

Marinate the chicken with rice wine, soy sauce and salt for 30 minutes. Beat the egg white, then add to chicken with the cornstarch and mix well. Heat oil in a wok to flash-fry the chicken. Use a candy thermometer to be sure you’ve reached 375° before frying.

Fry the chicken for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove chicken to paper towels and set it aside. Remove most of the oil from the pan, leaving about 1 tbsp. in it.

On medium heat, stir fry the garlic, ginger and dry chilies. Take great care not to burn the chilies.

Stir fry until fragrant, then bring the chicken back to the wok. Add the soy sauce, sesame seeds and Sichuan peppercorns. Give it a minute on real high heat, tossing constantly. Salt to taste.

Add the spring onions and toss a bit more to heat them. Serve with warm rice.

a note from Spaceman Ken:

This is a quick and simple dish of diced chicken, lightly battered, fried and stir-fried with Szechuan peppercorns, dried chili peppers, ginger, garlic and green onions. This is my first time using szechuan peppercorn in my cooking and it won’t be the last. I remember seeing the Australian Chef Kylie Kwong used it ever so often in her dishes and I just have to try it out and and I must said I really like it. The peppercorn gave out a really unique aroma to the dish and when you bite into it, it creates in the mouth a kind of tingly numbness.

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