Sichuan pepper-salt chicken stir fry

MissFoodFairy's Sichuan pepper-salt chicken stirfry finished dish2

We’ve just had a friend from Japan stay with us for a couple of days, which has been really cool! We haven’t seen each other for almost a year! And although this is not a Japanese dish, our Japanese friend appreciated this one  – she could eat the meal with chopsticks instead of using a knife and fork! She felt right at home.

I wanted to make a stir fry with a little heat without the use of lots of chilli. I find that fresh or dried chillies can be quite overpowering sometimes. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time in my day to spend making a sambal or chilli paste, which brought me to question – “How I could get a spicy heat without using chillies?” I know that in my pantry I have some Sichuan peppercorns! These peppercorns were the exact heat I was looking for.

If you’ve never used Sichuan (pronounced sesh-whan) peppercorns before, please be careful. They have an intense flavour with a slight numbing effect on the tongue. I would be using less to start with, tasting as you go along. If you find you need some more heat, add more Sichuan peppercorn-salt to the chicken either while it’s cooking or when you’re about to plate up

PREP: 50minutes (including marinating time)     COOK: 20-25minutes

INGREDIENTS:
2 chicken breasts, skin removed (keep for crispy skin pieces), sliced thinly
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cm piece ginger, minced or finely grated
2 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon chilli flakes

MissFoodFairy's prep for Sichuan pepper-salt stirfry chicken

SICHUAN PEPPER-SALT:
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon rock sea salt

CRISPY CHICKEN SKIN (optional):
2 pieces of chicken skin (kept from chicken breasts)
Salt to season
1 teaspoon peanut oil

VEGETABLES:
4 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
15 snow peas, halved

MissFoodFairy's prep for Sichuan pepper-salt stirfry chicken2

RICE:
2 cups Basmati rice (or whatever rice you like)
4 cups cold water
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon butter

METHOD:
In a bowl mix the wine, soy and ginger and marinate the chicken for at least half an hour or longer if possible.

Place rice, water and salt in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, with the lid on. Once boiling, turn heat to low and add butter, returning the lid to the saucepan. Cook for 10 minutes then remove from heat. Allow to steam for 10 minutes or until the chicken and vegetables are cooked – do not remove the lid or feel the urge to stir as the rice will go gluggy and mushy.

While chicken is marinating, and rice is cooking, turn a small frypan or skillet onto medium-high heat. Once hot, add the Sichuan peppercorns and dry fry for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant, moving the peppercorns continually. Do not burn. Remove from the pan and add into a mortar & pestle with the salt. Grind until fine like table salt. Set aside until needed.

In another smaller frypan or skillet, add peanut oil on medium heat. When hot, add the chicken – careful as this may splatter a little bit. Place a small plate on top of the skin to stop it from folding up when frying. After about 1 minute, carefully remove the plate and turn the chicken over. It should be golden in colour. Fry on other side until golden, once again adding the plate on top. Once golden & crispy, remove the skin and place on a plate with paper towel to drain excess oil. Allow to cool and cut into small pieces with scissors – I found this easier than a using a knife.

In a wok, or a large frypan, on medium-high heat add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil and ½ teaspoon chilli flakes and fry half the chicken until no pink can be seen. Remove and set aside in a bowl. Coat with the Sichuan pepper-salt and stir to coat. Repeat with remaining oil, chilli flakes and chicken.

Add butter into the wok and sauté mushrooms with the garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add in broccoli and fry for an extra 2 minutes. Add back in the chicken until well combined then turn heat off. Mix in snow peas.

To serve, place the chicken stir fry, topped with the crispy chicken skin, into a large bowl in the middle of the table, while rice is placed into small bowls. Let everyone help themselves.

Healthy and quick – enjoy!

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