Recipe: “Strange-Flavored” Chicken(怪味鸡丝)and “Bang Bang” Chicken(棒棒鸡丝)

“Strange flavor”(怪味 – guai wei – gwai [rhymes with English word “eye”] way [same as English word “way”] – “strange flavor”) is a uniquely Sichuanese flavor combining salty (xian), sweet (tian), ma (what is ma? see this post), spicy (la), sour (suan), xian (meaning “fresh” and “savory”; umami), and “fragrant” (xiang) flavors in equal amounts.(In order: 咸、甜、麻、辣、酸、鲜、香; pronunciations: syehn, tyehn, mah, lah, swehn, syehn, syahng)”Strange flavor” is used with chicken and peanuts. Today, I will share how to make “strange-flavored” chicken.

Recipe adapted from Land of Plenty

1. You need a 3 lb chicken.
2. Bring water to a boil in a pot. You need enough to cover the chicken.
3. Put chicken in the water. Bring back to a boil, removing all the foam.
4. When there is no more foam, add a 1 1/2 inch long piece of ginger, unpeeled, crushed with the side of a knife. Also add 2 green onions, tied into knots.
5. Cover and simmer 30 minutes until cooked. Poke a bamboo skewer into the deepest part of the thigh. If no pink juice, it is cooked.
6. Remove chicken from the pot and rinse under cold running water.
7. Cool in a pot of cold water for about an hour.
8. Drain the chicken. Remove all the meat from the bones. You will have about 2 lbs of chicken meat.

“Strange-flavored” Sauce:
1 tbsp white sugar
1 pinch salt
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Baoning vinegar or Chinkiang vinegar (more information)
3 tbsp Chinese sesame paste or tahini
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp homemade Chinese red chili oil with flakes (see this post)
1/2 to 1 tsp ground roasted Sichuan peppercorns

Mix everything well.

Cut 1 lb cooked chicken into 1/2 inch wide slivers. You can also tear by hand.
Cut 3-4 green onions into thin slivers. Rinse and drain under cold running water in a sieve to remove some sharp onion flavor.

Put green onion slivers in a “bed” on the bottom of the plate.
Put chicken slivers in a pile on top of the green onions.
Pour the sauce over the chicken.
Sprinkle with 1 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds. You can also use crushed, roasted peanuts.
Enjoy! Serve as an appetizer.

“Bang bang” chicken(棒棒鸡丝 – bang bang ji si – bong bong dzee ss – “stick stick chicken slivers”)is named because a wooden stick(棒)was used to hit the chicken meat. This dish has a sauce almost the same as “strange-flavored” chicken, but has more ma and la flavor. Make the “strange-flavored” sauce with at least 1 tsp ground roasted Sichuan peppercorns and 3 tbsp Chinese red chili oil.


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