Served in the street markets of the Sichuan province of China, Bang Bang Chicken is a chilled chicken dish served with a spicy dressing, perfect for warm summer evenings. Traditionally the raw chicken is tenderised by pounding it with a wooden mallet - hence it's quirky name.
Nowadays it's no longer necessary to tenderise chicken by bashing it about with a hammer, but I do recommend gently poaching the chicken with some fresh ginger and a few spring onions. Not only do you have lovely juicy chicken for your salad but you are then blessed with some wonderful stock that you can use the next day. By adding a little miso to the broth, you also have the base for a really tasty ramen bowl.
The salad ingredients are not traditional, but I think it makes more of a meal and it's really up to you what you add in. Toasted and crushed peanuts are really good as are sliced spring onions, I've also added in some thinly sliced mange tout, yellow pepper, pak choi and cucumber with a few soft herb leaves. You could also add in some vermicelli noodles, thinly sliced carrot, cabbage, radishes, iceberg, whatever you have to hand.
The dressing is pretty simple to assemble, it uses Chinese sesame sauce as the base which is a thick paste that, like tahini, needs to be let down with some water to create a runny liquid that's the same consistency as single cream. The flavour of Chinese sesame sauce is quite different in both look and taste to tahini, the smell is instantly recognisable as Chinese and for me, evokes memories of China town. Like many Sichuan dishes it uses Sichuan peppercorns to create that mouth-tingling taste, along with plenty of hot chilli oil. I made my own chilli oil using the traditional Chinese chillies for a really authentic flavour, but Fussels ready made chilli rapeseed oil would also work well.
Ingredients for Bang Bang Chicken
For the chicken
1 whole chicken
1 large piece a fresh ginger, unpeeled and roughly sliced
4 spring onions
For the dressing
3 tablespoons Chinese sesame sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3-4 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, dry roasted and crushed
2½ tablespoons Chinese Chinkiang black rice vinegar
2½ tablespoons caster sugar
5-6 tablespoons chilli oil (see recipe below or use Fussels Chilli Oil)
For the salad
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 cucumber, deseeded and finely sliced
2 heads of pak choi, finely shredded
1 yellow pepper, finely sliced
60g mange tout, finely sliced
75g unsalted peanuts, roasted and lightly crushed
A few mint leaves, ripped
For the chili oil
250ml Fussels cold pressed rapeseed oil
25g Arbol Chillies
1 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds
1. Remove the wings from the chicken plus the legs and thighs. Remove the back bone part, so you are left with a crown of chicken (i.e. the breasts still on the bone) and place all the pieces in a large pot. Add the ginger, spring onions and cover everything with water. Bring up to a very gentle simmer and poach for 45 minutes to an hour. It's important not to let the water boil, if you have a temperature probe, the water should sit at around 80°C.
2. To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients together. You want the consistency of single cream so add a few tablespoons of water so it's easily pourable. The amount of chilli oil looks a bit scary, somehow when you combine chilli with Sichuan peppercorns something magical happens and you can use more chilli oil than you would normally, so be brave!
3. Prep up all your salad ingredients and set to one side.
4. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the broth and allow it to cool. You can do this ahead of time, or even the day before. It's also fine to serve this as a warm salad. Using a combination of your hands and a knife shred up the chicken. I always add the bones back into the broth and continue cooking it for a hour or so.
5. In a bowl, drizzle the chicken with some of the sauce and mix, then combine the other salad ingredients, drizzle everything with a bit more sauce and serve.
Chilli oil recipe
1. Using a blender or spice grinder, blitz the chillies into a powder.
2. Heat the rapeseed oil to around 130°C
3. In a heatproof bowl, pour the hot oil over the ground chillies and sesame seeds and leave to infuse for at least 2 or 3 hours, but preferably a few days. It will keep well in a jar for several weeks.
Enjoy! Foodies don't forget to tag us in your social posts and leave a review for this recipe when you cook this at home. Ben
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