Thursday, June 19, 2014

Strange Flavor (Bang Bang) Chicken

I'm going to be honest. The real reason I wanted to try making this dish is because of its awesome name: Strange Flavor Chicken. It's alternatively called Bang Bang Chicken, also a super awesome name. As if the amusing names for this Sichuanese dish weren't reason enough, I was very intrigued by the flavor profile of this dish. The "strange flavor" aspect refers to the combination of salty, sweet, sour, nutty, hot, and numbing flavors.

I really wasn't sure what to expect, but upon tasting the sauce for dressing this cold chicken dish, I would have to agree that it really embodies all of those flavors, perhaps with "nutty" being the standout from the assertive sesame paste.

I can see why they call it Strange Flavor because I did find it to taste somewhat peculiar, in a good way. It took a few bites before I could really wrap my head around the contrasting yet balanced flavors in the sauce. I actually used store-bought rotisserie chicken which I shred up instead of cooking the chicken myself, which made for a much faster preparation.

I also love the way the julienned scallions curl once freshened up in some cold water. It makes for a really pretty presentation! This truly unique Sichuanese dish is a lovely component to any authentic Chinese meal. It's also a great idea for using up leftover roast or boiled chicken by dressing it up with this intense sauce.

Strange Flavor Chicken (aka Bang Bang Chicken)
Serves 4 as an appetizer
(From Land of Plenty)

1 pound cooked chicken meat, cooled
6 to 8 scallions, white parts only
1 tablespoon white sugar
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinkiang or black Chinese vinegar
3 tablespoons well-blended Chinese sesame paste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons chili oil with chile flakes (see recipe)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground roasted Sichuan pepper
3 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Cut the chicken, with any remaining skin, into slivers about 1/2 inch wide (if you want to be really authentic, hit it a few times with a rolling pin to loosen the fibers and then tear the flesh into shreds by hand).

Cut the scallions into sections and then slice these lengthwise into fine slivers. Put them into a bowl of cold water to refresh.

Stir the sugar and salt in the soy sauce and vinegar until dissolved. Gradually stir in the sesame paste to make a smooth sauce. Add the other ingredients except the sesame seeds and mix well.

Shortly before serving, drain the scallions and pile them neatly in the center of your serving dish. Lay the chicken slivers on top of them. Pour over the prepared sauce.

At the last minute, sprinkle with the sesame seeds.


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