Citizens, your noble and asbestos-palated TFD is a long-time chilehead and was in fact baptized as a newborn bairn at the very font of capsaicin!
This dish – despite its terrifying picture – is one of my favorites from the great and mountainous province of Sichuan and is in fact actually not very spicy! The chiles are NOT intended to be eaten, so as long as you keep them whole, the dish will be on the mild side.
Laziji (simplified Chinese: 辣子鸡; traditional Chinese: 辣子雞; pinyin: làzǐjī), is a classic Sichuan Chinese dish. It consists of marinated, deep-fried pieces of chicken stir-fried with Sichuan chili bean paste (doubanjiang), Sichuan peppers, garlic, and ginger.
Toasted sesame seeds and sliced spring onions are often used to garnish the dish. Diners use chopsticks to pick out the pieces of chicken, leaving the chilies in the bowl.
Laziji originated near Geleshan in Chongqing, where restaurateurs used small free-range chickens from nearby farms. This poultry became a signature export for Geleshan.
If at all possible, please try and use the genuine Sichuan “Heaven Facing Upwards” chili for this dish – you can purchase them from here. This site is also a great source for other Sichuanese ingredients and their attendant recipes!
The name “Chongqing” is actually the name of a city that is famous in Sichuan province for its cuisine – details are here.
Citizens, my version of this classic is one that I am fully confident you will enjoy in all of its brilliant red culinary glory!
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- For the chicken/marinade:
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, or use an equivalent amount of breast meat if you prefer (I do)
- Skin from 3 chicken thighs (or equivalent amount from other part of chicken), cut in 1-inch squares
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon peanut or corn oil
- For Dredging:
- 1 ½ cups cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the rest of the dish:
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
- 5 slices peeled ginger, julienned
- 7 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 cup whole dried red chilies – this dish won’t actually be that spicy, unless you break open some of the dry hot peppers. If you do like the dish spicy, break open no more than six peppers
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing cooking wine
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 2 scallions, one chopped and one cut into shreds
- 4 to 5 tablespoons chopped zha cai (pickled mustard tuber)
- ¼ teaspoon MSG or chicken powder (as in China, but optional)
- Peanut or Corn oil for deep frying, about 3 cups
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil for garnish
- Extra freshly-ground Sichuan peppercorns to taste for garnish
- Rinse the chicken and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to a bowl and toss with the marinade ingredients. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Heat wok on high heat until wisps of heat start to rise and add enough canola or peanut oil to deep-fry the chicken, about 1½ cups. When oil is hot, around 350°, add chicken skin pieces and fry until they are just starting to turn golden. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
- In a large bowl or plate, mix together the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Dredge the chicken meat in cornstarch mixture and shake off the excess cornstarch.
- Heat the 3 cups of peanut or vegetable oil in your wok until it registers 350°F on an instant-read oil thermometer.
- Working in 2 or 3 batches, add the first batch of chicken cubes and fry until golden brown on the outside and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
- Drain the oil into a heatproof container and save for discarding. Wipe the wok with a paper towel to remove any brown bits, but don’t wash.
- Heat the wok over medium low heat, add 3 tablespoons of oil and add the Sichuan peppercorns. Let them toast for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the whole dried chilies, and stir for another minute. Monitor the heat levels to avoid burning.
- Turn up the heat to high, and add the chicken, Shaoxing wine, MSG or chicken powder, sugar, chicken skin, zha cai and chopped scallion.
- Continue to stir-fry, until any liquid in the wok has evaporated. Just before serving, add sesame oil, extra ground Sichuan peppercorn and shredded scallion – toss.
- Serve with lots of steamed jasmine rice and a veggie on the side! Try garlic broccoli or bok choy.
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