Sichuan Mouthwatering Chicken (Ma La Ji Pian)
Author: Karen Christensen
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
  1. Simmer the boneless chicken thighs with the ginger root and onion, allow to cool, then cut into slices.
  2. Meanwhile, combine sugar, soy sauce, and oils in a small bowl.
  3. Pour the sauce over the chicken slices, sprinkle with scallion slices and ground Sichuan pepper, and mix gently.
  4. Garnish with more spring onion and, if desired, chopped fresh cilantro.