Cold Chicken with Spicy Sichuanese Sauce (Liang ban ji)
This is one of the most marvellous of all Sichuanese culinary ideas. It’s a salad dressed with seasonings that generally include soy sauce and chilli oil, with sugar, sesame oil, vinegar, crushed garlic and ground roasted Sichuan pepper added according to taste or mood. It’s very easy to make and stunningly delicious, as I hope you’ll agree.
Ever since I first lived in Sichuan, this kind of dish has been part of my everyday kitchen repertoire. I’ve often served a spicy chicken salad alongside other dishes that are more ambitious or complicated to make, and yet this tends to be the one that everyone raves about the most.
I don’t actually use a recipe for this, any more than I would use a recipe to mix up a vinaigrette, so it’s different every time I make it. The following version and its variation, which I’ve measured, are lip-smackingly wonderful, but do please think of them as templates rather than immutable instructions, and improvise as you will.
You might want to add more chilli oil in winter, or more refreshing vinegar when the weather is hot and sultry, while a spritz of crushed garlic can be quite enlivening. You can also serve the dressed chicken on a bed of sliced cucumber, or toss some salad leaves, perhaps rocket or watercress, into the mix.
In China, they normally poach a whole chicken, then chop it up bones and all, but you can equally well use boneless meat. And don’t forget that this is also a marvellous way of using up leftover roast chicken or turkey: the meat won’t be quite as moist and fresh-tasting as that of a poached bird, but
it’s still delicious (and you can add extra chicken stock to the
sauce to moisten, if necessary).
Serves 3-4 with other dishes
300–350g cold cooked chicken, without bones
(see overleaf for poaching instructions)
3 spring onions
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
For the sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
11/2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar
11/2 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp chicken stock
3–4 tbsp chilli oil with 1/2 tbsp of its sediment (or more, if you wish)
1/4–1/2 tsp ground, roasted
Sichuan pepper, to taste
1 tsp sesame oil
Variation (another sauce for cold chicken)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp finely chopped or crushed garlic
2 tbsp chicken stock
3 tbsp chilli oil (with or without its sediment)
1/2 tsp ground, roasted Sichuan pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Cut or tear the chicken as evenly as possible into bite-sized strips or slivers and place them in a deep bowl.
Cut the spring onions at a steep angle into thin slices. Mix them and the salt with the chicken.
If using sesame seeds, toast them gently in a dry wok or frying pan for a few minutes, until they are fragrant and starting to turn golden, then tip out into a small dish.
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. When you are ready to eat, pour the sauce over the chicken, and mix well with chopsticks or salad servers. Arrange on a serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.
© Fuchsia Dunlop 2012
From Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking
by Fuchsia Dunlop, Bloomsbury Publishing plc
Photograph by Chris Terry
Author: Fuchsia Dunlop Email: email@example.com