Sichuan Mouthwatering Chicken (Ma La Ji Pian)
This excellent cold dish, served in China as an appetizer, can be treated as a super-charged chicken salad. There are many variations of the traditional Sichuan chicken in chili oil sauce. The Chinese name means “saliva chicken,” which translated into English as mouth-watering. Kou Shui Ji 口水鸡. I tried two versions: Fuchsia Dunlop’s which has the double hit of chili oil and Sichuan pepper in a simple sauce, and Nicole Mones’s Ghost Chicken which also has garlic and ginger. There are many other versions around and you’ll find recipes abound, even one that adds thousand-year eggs to the dish. I served this chicken with buckwheat noodles tossed in a little sesame oil, after reading Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe for “Spicy Buckwheat Noodles (with or without Chicken)” and deciding that I wouldn’t be breaking too many rules. I had Japanese soba (buckwheat) noodles and simply boiled them in lightly salted water until al dente (cooked through but firm). I drained them, tossed with dark sesame oil, and served with room-temperature chicken as below, with Cucumber Salad on the side.
- 1 lb. cooked chicken
- A few chucks of ginger root
- A few pieces of onion
- 4 – 6 spring onions, cut into diagonal slices about 1/4″ thick
- 4 tsp. white sugar
- 3 Tbsp. light soy sauce
- 3 – 6 Tbsp. chili oil (Hong You) – start with just a spoonful if unfamiliar to you
- 2 tsp. dark sesame oil
- ½ – 1 tsp. ground roasted Sichuan pepper or a little Sichuan pepper oil
- Simmer the boneless chicken thighs with the ginger root and onion, allow to cool, then cut into slices.
- Meanwhile, combine sugar, soy sauce, and oils in a small bowl.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken slices, sprinkle with scallion slices and ground Sichuan pepper, and mix gently.
- Garnish with more spring onion and, if desired, chopped fresh cilantro.