Citizens, this evocatively-named salad from China does indeed sound exactly like its preparation technique – in the original recipe, the chicken breast was beaten (bang bang!) with a wooden dowel or mallet to tenderize the breast meat and help the meat absorb the delicious sauce.
Today, with our modern chickens, this beating step is unnecessary but may be undertaken to help blow off some steam in an angry cook, if necessary! 😉
The sauce is what is known in Chinese as a “strange flavor” recipe, as it is sweet, spicy, sour, nutty and “numbing” (thanks to the liberal use of Sichuan peppercorns in the dressing) – all at the same time!
Bon bon chicken (also known as Bang Bang Ji (棒棒鸡) and Bang-Bang Chicken) is a very popular dish in China. The name Bang Bang chicken is derived from the manner in which the meat is tenderized using a stick or hammer to hit, or bang it.
According to a legend in Ming and Qing dynasties, there was a dedicated chef in the remote areas of Ya’an who enjoyed experimenting with foods. After studying and practicing the art of soup-mixing for a long time, he successfully invented a formula to produce aromatic chicken meat and broth. However, because of the low productivity, chicken was a luxury to enjoy and was only served on holidays.
Someone came up with a strategy: cut the whole chicken into thin slices and sell it by the slice. This strategy proved to be very effective, and “chicken slices” gained a good reputation. However, another problem occurred: a kitchen knife could not cut a whole chicken into slices evenly, and customers are often picky when making purchases.
However, it was found that beating the chicken into pieces with a giant stick would solve this problem. At the same time, juice broth infuses into the chicken and adds flavor. When preparing the dish, one holds a stick and another holds a knife; the sound made by the stick and the knife striking each other has a rhythmic, almost musical quality, hence the name “Bang Bang chicken”.
Citizens, I have happily and gratefully cribbed the vast majority of this recipe from the version I consider the best I’ve ever tried – the one created by the founder of Serious Eats that includes cooking the breast sous vide! I have tweaked his recipe by adding in some Sichuan green peppercorn oil (buy it here), added my own garnishes and adding some fresh sliced mung bean sheets and cucumber to make it more salad-like.
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 1 ¾ pounds whole bone-in, skin-on split chicken breast halves (2 to 3 breast halves)
- 4 oz mung bean sheet (100g)
- 1 Japanese cucumber
- For Seasoning The Chicken:
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed, divided
- 6 whole scallions, 2 roughly chopped, 4 thinly sliced at a sharp bias
- 1 (1-inch) knob peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
- For The Dressing:
- 2 teaspoons toasted whole Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons black or plain sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon sesame paste, preferably Chinese
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar
- ⅛ cup chili oil with sediment
- ⅛ cup Green Sichuan Peppercorn Oil
- Cilantro leaves for garnish
- Very thinly sliced rings of red jalapeno for garnish
- Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Place chicken in zipper-lock bags or vacuum bags and add half of garlic, roughly chopped scallions, and all of ginger. Remove air from zipper-lock bags by closing the bags, leaving the last inch of the top un-sealed. Slowly lower into a pot of water, sealing the bag completely just before it fully submerges. If using a vacuum bag, seal according to manufacturer instructions.
- Preheat a sous-vide cooker to 150°F. Add chicken and cook for at least 1 hour and up to 4. Transfer to an ice bath and let chill for 15 minutes.
- Soak mung bean sheet for a few minutes in cool water until soft. Drain well and cut into strips ½” thick. Bang the chicken breast with the side of cleaver or a rolling pin until meat is loose and tender, then shred with fingers or a fork. Slice cucumber into thin matchsticks about 3″ long
- Heap mung bean sheet strips over bottom of serving plate. Top with cucumber, then chicken. Drizzle sauce all over and chill until ready to serve. Just before serving sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds.
- While chicken cooks, grind Sichuan peppercorns in a mortar and pestle until a rough powder is formed. Add sugar, remaining 3 cloves garlic, and sesame seeds and pound until a rough paste is formed. Add sesame paste, soy sauce, and vinegar and pound until a smooth paste is formed. Stir in Sichuan green peppercorn oil, chili oil and sediment. Set dressing aside.
- When chicken is cooked, remove from bags and discard garlic, scallions, and ginger. Stir 2 tablespoons of juices from the bag into the dressing. Remove skin and bones from chicken and discard. Shred meat and transfer to a large bowl.
- Add dressing and sliced scallions. Toss chicken to coat in dressing and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, sprinkled with more scallions and sesame seeds and drizzled with additional chili oil if desired.
- Category: Recipes
- Calories: 305.82 kcal
- Sugar: 6.7 g
- Sodium: 424.97 mg
- Fat: 17.31 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.9 g
- Trans Fat: 0.08 g
- Carbohydrates: 27.32 g
- Fiber: 6.01 g
- Protein: 12.69 g
- Cholesterol: 13.92 mg
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