Chengdu Chicken – An Authentic Chinese Chicken Recipe

This Szechuan dish is named after Chengdu, which is the capital of China’s Szechuan province. This recipe serves three people as an entree or six if you are serving another dish with it. The hot bean paste gives the dish plenty of flavor. This ingredient is made with crushed chilies and soy beans.

Szechuan cuisine is famed for its bold flavors. Garlic, Szechuan peppercorns, and chilies are widely used in recipes from this recipe and ginger, sesame paste and peanuts also feature in a lot of recipes. As well as Chengdu recipes, there are Chongquig recipes, Zigong ones and Buddhist vegetarian food from the Szechuan region. The word is sometimes spelt Szechwan or Sichuan.

What you will need:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 bunch spinach
  • 1 green onion
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan pepper or coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 1 tablespoon hot bean paste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt, as needed

For the marinade:

  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry or rice wine
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry or rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons red rice vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

How to make it:

Wash the chicken and pat it dry on paper towels. Discard any fat. Cut the meat into strips and then cut the strips into one inch cubes. Combine the sherry or rice wine, sesame oil, soy sauce and black pepper to make the marinade, and then stir in the cornstarch. Marinate the meat in this mixture for twenty minutes in the refrigerator.

Combine the vinegar, soy sauce, rice wine or sherry and sugar to make the sauce. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water in another bowl. Smash and peel the garlic. Chop the ginger and garlic. Wash the green onion and chop it finely. Wash the spinach and drain it.

Heat the wok, and then add a tablespoon of the oil. Add the spinach and some salt. Wilt the spinach for a few seconds, and then remove it from the wok. Clean out the wok and add four tablespoons of oil to it. Add the chicken and fry it, stirring all the time. When it is almost cooked, take it out of the wok, leaving two tablespoons of oil in there. Add the hot bean paste, garlic, and ginger and fry for half a minute. Put the chicken back in the wok and stir the mixture.

Push the meat up the wok sides and add the sauce to the center. Stir the cornstarch mixture again and mix it into the sauce, stirring it fast so it thickens. Stir the chicken into the sauce and add the sesame oil and green onion. Sprinkle the Szechuan pepper or coriander over the top and serve it with the wilted spinach and perhaps some rice or egg noodles.