I recently purchased Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuan cookbook Land of Plenty and have been slowly working my way through various recipes (see pics from my first few tries here). So far I’ve been happy with the results, but it wasn’t until I took on Strange Flavored Chicken that I felt I had truly hit a home run. This dish is so easy and flavorful that I can already see it becoming a staple in my “What do I make now?” repertoire.

Pics after the jump…

Things start off with half a pound of sliced chicken meat and about three or four scallions sliced (light parts only). The recipe calls for a full pound of meat, but I found the sauce-to-chicken ratio too small. Also, the book has instructions for preparing and cooking the chicken in a traditional Sichuan manner, but I was lazy and just bought pre-cooked chicken at the store.

In my magic bullet goes a tablespoon of sugar.

Next is a tablespoon of light soysauce and a tablespoon of Chianking vinegar. Black vinegar will work too, and failing that, rice vinegar is probably fine. I then swirl the mixture around until the sugar has dissolved.

Three tablespoons of tahini enter the equation.

This is followed by a tablespoon of sesame oil and two tablespoons of homemade chili oil. In retrospect, you could probably get away with just one tablespoon of chili oil.

Lastly, about half to a full teaspoon of ground roasted Sichuan pepper.

After some whirring in the Magic Bullet, the sauce looks like this (it’s actually darker, but my flash overexposed it, and I was too lazy to take another pic. I was really hungry).

I pour the sauce over the chicken and scallions. Tossing ensues.

After some mixing and a heavy dose of sesame seeds, we’re left with this: strange flavored chicken! Also known as Bang Bang Chicken too. (Not to be confused with the Bang Bang lady).

Let me tell you something: this dish is da bomb. The number of flavors going on all at once is insane. It’s spicy from the chili oil and Sichuan pepper; it’s sweet from the sugar; it’s nutty from the tahini and sesame oil; it’s tangy from the vinegar; and it’s savory from the soy sauce and scallions. Plus, the crunch from the sesame seeds adds a great contrast in the “mouthfeel,” as they say. And did I mention it takes about five minutes to assemble (no cooking if you Sandra Lee it like me!).

If you can’t find Sichuan peppercorns, I’m sure regular black pepper will be an okay substitute (although, it won’t leave your mouth tingling). This dish is so tasty, I might make some more right now! Literally, I’m salivating.

Give it a whirl and tell me what you think!

3 replies on “ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Strange Flavored Chicken Edition”

  1. Have you seen her new book?

    Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China

    After fifteen years spent exploring China and its food, Fuchsia Dunlop finds herself in an English kitchen, deciding whether to eat a caterpillar she has accidentally cooked in some home-grown vegetables. How can something she has eaten readily in China seem grotesque in England? The question lingers over this “autobiographical food-and-travel classic” (Publishers Weekly).
    Pub. Ed. $16.95

    Mem. Ed. $15.26

    (Save 10%)

  2. I ordered this book (Land of Plenty, not the new one) this week. I wished I could somehow give you credit and commission off of the sale, since it was your work that made me buy it!

  3. Strange flavored chicken sounds intriguing indeed, and looks like it’ll go well with some noodles or rice.

    Alas, since I so rarely use tahini — I might swap that out for PB & toasted sesame oil. But can’t wait to try.

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