The name comes from the pounding of chicken sold by street vendors in Sichuan. This version doesn't go to such lengths, but the distinctive flavour remains. It is sometimes called strange-flavour chicken, after the unique combination of flavours used to dress this salad. The secret to the success of the dressing is the house-made chilli oil (see note).
- 1 chicken (1.4kg)
- 100 ml Shaoxing wine
- 25 gm ginger, thickly sliced
- 50 gm bean sprouts, trimmed
- To serve: thinly sliced spring onion and sesame seeds
- 1½ tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
- 60 ml chilli oil (see note) (¼ cup)
- 30 gm caster sugar
- 2 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar (see note)
- 1 tbsp Sichuan pepper oil (see note)
- 1 tbsp Chinese roasted sesame paste (see note)
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1Bring 5 litres water to the simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat, plunge in chicken, cook for 10-20 seconds, then refresh under cold running water (discard water). Transfer chicken
to a clean saucepan, add Shaoxing wine, ginger, ½ tsp sea salt and top up with enough cold water to cover generously. Bring to the simmer over medium heat, reduce heat to low-medium and gently simmer until chicken is cooked through (1-1¼ hours). Remove from heat and cool chicken completely in liquid (3-4 hours). Coarsely shred meat (discard skin, bones and sinew) and transfer to a bowl.
- 2While the chicken is cooling, make the strange-flavour dressing. Combine ginger, garlic and 120ml hot water in a bowl and stand to infuse (20 minutes). Pass through a fine sieve (discard solids) into a clean bowl, add remaining ingredients and set aside.
- 3Blanch bean sprouts in a saucepan of simmering water until just wilted (5 seconds), refresh in iced water, drain well and scatter over a serving platter. Top with chicken, drizzle with dressing, scatter with spring onion and sesame seeds and serve at room temperature.
Note Chinkiang black vinegar, Sichuan pepper oil and Chinese roasted sesame paste are available from Asian grocers. Chilli oil is a key ingredient in many of these recipes. Although it's readily bought, the chefs at Dainty Sichuan make their own by frying 50gm coarsely chopped dried chillies with a little vegetable oil until fragrant. Blend with 500ml vegetable oil, steep for 24 hours, strain and it's ready.
Drink Suggestion: Bottle-aged riesling