You might have eaten (or even prepare) Bang Bang Chicken 棒棒鸡 before, but which one have you tried? The authentic Chinese Sichuan style Bang Bang chicken or the Americanized version?
In this article, I will show you the recipe close to the traditional Bang Bang Chicken served across Asia. The chicken is poached and dressed with a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, sesame paste, and chili oil. Astonishingly, it had evolved so drastically after ricocheted around the world and ended up morphing into a deep-fried chicken with mayonnaise.
Although Bang Bang chicken is an authentic Sichuan cuisine, the translation Bang Bang Chicken also refers to an Americanised version, which is deep-fried chicken dredged in the mayonnaise-based sauce.
The name Bang Bang is most likely an onomatopoeia for the sound made when the chef beat the chicken meat to submission during preparation. Another possibility is to refer to the stick/baton used to bash the boiled chicken meat, which is pronounced as ‘Bàng’ in Mandarin.
This recipe is divided into three parts: poach, bash, and drizzle. Let’s look at each step one by one.
1. Poach the chicken
Choose between breast or thigh meat
Chicken thigh meat is the choice over breast meat because it is juicier and has a delicious flavor. You can use breast meat, but it will be dryer and tougher.
Bring a pot of water to boil, with the amount just enough to immerse the chicken during poaching.
The poaching process
Add a few slices of ginger, a stalk of scallion, and a tablespoon of rice wine to the water. Then place the chicken into the water. Make sure there is adequate water to submerge all the chicken pieces to ensure even cooking.
The ginger, scallions, and wine add flavor to the chicken. The wine mainly helps to remove the undesirable frozen smell, particularly if you are using frozen chicken. They also convert the poaching liquid into chicken stock, which can be used in other recipes.
Turn up the heat immediately after adding the chicken to bring the water to a boil. Once it is boiling, lower the temperature to just enough to keep the water barely simmering. That is when you see there are few air bubbles randomly rising to the surface.
Poach the chicken at sub boiling point can produce tender and juicy meat. This method is similar to sous vide, albeit we do not set the temperature with the sous vide machine.
Do not overcook the chicken
Poach the chicken for twenty minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the chicken continue to submerge in the water for further ten minutes. By now, the chicken meat should have fully cooked even at the part closest to the thigh bone. You can confirm it by piercing a fork into the thickest part of the meat. The meat is cooked if there is no blood oozing out after removing the fork.
Place the cooked chicken in a pot of ice water to stop cooking instantly. Leave the chicken in the cold water for fifteen minutes or until the chicken is completely cold.
Now remove it and drain the water before proceeding to the next step.
2. ‘Bang” the chicken meat?
The word ‘Bang’ is 棒 in Chinese, which means baton or a stick. Nowadays, traditional chefs are still using the ‘Bang’ to bash the cooked chicken meat until it is loosened and break up into small pieces. Accordingly, bashing can turn the tough meat to become more tender.
I prefer to use the blade of the cleaver to flatten the meat, then shred into strips. The result is identical to bashing it with the rod. Therefore, I do not bang It with the rod anymore.
After that, shred the meat by hand into the size you want.
If you like the texture of the chicken skin, cut it into thin strips, then mix with the shredded chicken meat. Otherwise, you can discard it for a healthier Bang Bang Chicken.
Add some cucumbers
The last item you need is a cucumber. The slim and long Japanese cucumber is the perfect choice as it has fewer seeds and does not carry any bitter taste, which can happen to some Chinese cucumbers.
Julianne the cucumbers and then spread in on the serving plate.
3. Prepare the dressing
The dressing is the result of the complex interplay of vinegar, soy sauce, spices, sesame paste, and the tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns.
It is best to use Chinese black vinegar 镇江醋. You can substitute it with an equal portion of balsamic and rice vinegar.
Sesame paste is an item that is rare outside of Asia. Fortunately, you can use peanut butter as the substitute, which gives a similar texture and flavor. It is also available online at Amazon.com.
One of the main ingredients you need is chili oil. The oil is not just made with oil and chili, as it is perfumed with star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves, and Sichuan peppercorns. You will miss out a lot if you skip this. You should be able to get it at the Chinese grocery shop.
How to prepare the chili oil
If you want to make the chili oil yourself, please refer to the recipe which I wrote some time ago. The link will send you to separate article on this blog on how to make Dan Dan noodles. You can get a detailed explanation here.
Dan Dan noodles are another authentic Sichuan cuisine. Just like Bang Bang Chicken, chili oil is also a key component of Dan Dan noodles.
Constitute the sauce
To prepare the sauce, all you need to do is to combine all the ingredients. You may want to adjust the ratio of the components to suit your taste. I use two tablespoons of chili oil in this recipe, fearing some readers cannot handle the spiciness. I will most likely double that amount when I prepare it for my family.
Once you have everything ready, place the shredded chicken on the cucumber strips. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken, and garnish with white sesame, red chili, and shredded scallion.
Bang Bang chicken is most suitable to serve it as a side dish or appetizer. Enjoy!
Ingredients A (Poach the chicken)
- 600g chicken thigh meat
- 4 slices of ginger
- 1 tablespoon of rice wine
- 1 stalk of scallion
- 1 Japanese cucumber
Ingredients B (For the sauce)
- 1 tbsp (2 tsp?) sesame paste
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp black vinegar
- 2 tbsp chili oil
- 1tsp sugar
Ingredients C (Garnish)
- 1 stalk shredded scallion
- 1 tbsp red chili strips
- 1 tsp white sesame
- Bring a pot of water to boil.
- Add some ginger slices and scallion sections.
- Add some rice wine to remove the unwanted smell of chicken, particularly if you use frozen chicken.
- Add a few Sichuan peppercorns.
- Then poach the chicken thigh in boiling water over low heat for twenty minutes.
- After twenty minutes, remove from heat. Leave the chicken in the water to let it cool to room temperature.
- Julianne some Japanese cucumber and place it on a serving plate.
- Beat the meat with a wooden baton until the meat loosens.
- Remove the skin. Cut into fine strips.
- Remove the meat from the bone, shred into small strips.
- Place the shredded chicken meat and skin on top of the cucumber.
- Drizzle the sauce on top of the chicken.
- Add some white sesame on top.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 745 Total Fat: 38g Saturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 28g Cholesterol: 368mg Sodium: 1668mg Carbohydrates: 26g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 6g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 77g