(Adapted from Diane Kuan’s recipe on epicurious from her The Chinese Takeout Cookbook)
I actually had some Sichuan pepper on hand, which I had ordered from Penzey’s. There’s no real substitute for it. It’s been described as having a slight citrusy or piney flavor. If you don’t have it for the sauce you could try subbing about ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper.
Serves 2 – 3 (more if part of a multicourse Chinese dinner)
Marinade and chicken
1 tablespoon tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry (I used sherry)
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
1¼ pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes (can substitute breasts)
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar, or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey (or sugar)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
For the stir fry
2 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
8 to 10 dried red chilies
3 green onions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
Steamed rice for serving (optional)
1. Stir the marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the chicken and stir to distribute the marinade well. Marinate for 10 minutes.
2. Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
3. Heat a large skillet (or wok) over high heat until a drop of water instantly sizzles.
4. Add the oil. Add the chilies and stir fry for about 30 seconds, or until they are starting to blacken. (You may need your exhaust fan on because chilies can smoke over high heat.)
5. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until it is just done and no longer pink in
the middle (3-4 minutes). (Cut a larger piece to check.)
6. Add the red bell pepper and continue to cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.
7. Add the white green onions (reserve the green slices), garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring, for about 3 seconds.
8. Add the sauce and stir. Add the peanuts and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes. Top with the reserved green onions and serve with steamed rice.