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Super Sensational Spicy Chicken

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A dish by many names: Big Plate Chicken, Sensational Spicy Chicken, XinJiang Style Chicken, or Hot and Spicy Chicken.

I first met this fiery chicken, potato and capsicum stew at Shaolin Kung Fu Noodle on Dominion Road. At Shaolin, this dish comes in two sizes, large $48 or small $38. Served with their famous hand pulled noodles which are toothsome and filling, a large will feed an army and a small will push two adults into a food coma. Since I first ate this dish, it has been popping up all over the Dom Road as this style of cuisine becomes more common.

While I love the flavours in this dish, I have a some issues with it. I’ve made a few tweaks to make this a bit more eater-friendly.

The authentic dish has a one or two giant noodles served on the side or placed on top. This is fine if you are a giant who loves a metre-long noodle. Giant noodles look cool (and symbolise long life) but are a bitch to share. If you accidentally drop a giant noodle back into the sauce it will splash chilli sauce into your eye and you will have a bad time. My recipe makes a reasonable 40 to 50cm noodle. No more chilli sauce in the eye. You’re welcome.

Addictively mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns lend a floral peppery flavour but they are unpleasant to crunch on. To fix this, my recipe starts with Sichuan peppercorns and star anise in hot oil which you then remove the aromatics from. You use the fragrant oil in the final dish for that lovely flavour without the awkward crunch. You’re welcome.

The authentic dish uses whole chicken, cut through the bone into small pieces. This can result in tiny bone fragments throughout the dish. Let’s be frank, this sucks. My recipe uses boneless chicken thighs. You’re welcome.

With those concessions out of the way, here is the recipe plus noodles below.

Super Sensational Spicy Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 500 grams boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fermented chilli bean paste (doubanjiang)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 green capsicum, deseeded cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 red capsicum, deseeded cut into bite size pieces
  • To serve: hand pulled noodles (see recipe below)

Preparation

  1. Heat a wok or a large frying pan. Add oil and once hot, fry the Sichuan peppercorns with star anise for 2 minutes until fragrant. Remove and discard the aromatics so you are left only with a fragrant oil.
  2. Add chicken pieces and cook for 7 minutes, stirring couple of minutes until golden on all sides.
  3. Add onion, ginger, chilli bean paste, tomato paste, chilli flakes, cumin, and garlic. Stir until fragrant and onions have softened. Add chicken stock, sugar, light and dark soy sauce. Bring to boil and add potatoes. Pop on a lid and cook covered on medium high heat for 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Stir in capsicum and cook uncovered for a further 15 minutes to cook capsicum and reduce the sauce. Stir regularly to cook evenly and ensure the stew doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  4. Cook noodles according to instructions. Place on a large platter and top with the chicken stew. If you can’t be bothered with hand pulled noodles, use store bought noodles or steamed rice.

Hand pulled noodles

Allow 3 hours from start to finish

Ingredients
  • 1 and 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 100ml water
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Preparation

  1. Place the flour and salt together in a bowl, mix to combine. Drizzle in the water, mixing as you go. Knead for a minute until a very stiff dough forms. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. After resting, knead the dough for 2 minutes, pressing firmly to get rid of any splits or cracks on the surface of the dough. Roll into a large log and split the dough into 8 even pieces: half, then in half again and again. Place these to one side of your work surface.
  3. Take 1 piece of dough and squeeze tightly in your hand to compress into a sausage shape then roll out into a log until it resembles a fat finger. Place log into a bowl. Repeat with all other pieces. Toss logs in oil so they are well coated and rest for 2 hours.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Take a noodle log and flatten with a rolling pin. Pick up the strip at each end and slap the noodle down onto your work surface to pull and stretch the noodle. Start gently – you’ll get a feel for how far you can go without breaking. Stop at about 40-50cm. Cut each noodle in half down the middle and cook for 1-2 minutes in boiling water until the noodle floats to the top. Repeat until all noodles are formed and cooked. Serve immediately.

 

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