Stir Fried Chicken with Szechuan Pepper

Posted By Stephen

We planned a quick dinner this evening of stir fried chicken and bought most of the ingredients yesterday. We weren’t quite sure on an exact recipe, which was left up to me as I arrived home first and started slicing things. I sliced an orange pepper, half an onion, some baby corn and a large chicken breast, then finely chopped a garlic clove and grated half an inch or so of ginger.

I decided that as I was still waiting for Kerri to arrive, I might as well marinate the chicken to give it a little more flavour. So into a bowl it went along with some soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine. As I started grinding some black pepper into the marinade, I realised that what we needed was actually Szechuan pepper instead! We had some but had never used it, so now was the perfect opportunity. I didn’t know how much to put in, so added a teaspoon or so of it. I had a look at the side of the spice bottle and it recommended making a marinate of soy sauce, dry sherry and Szechuan pepper, so my impromptu marinade was pretty much spot on.

I’ve never looked very closely at Szechuan pepper before and I expected them to look similar to black or white peppercorns, but actually they are the shell of a little fruit / seed rather than the seed itself – the inside is thrown away. Lots of information about them in the usual place.

We stir fried the various ingredients, adding the marinade to the wok after a few minutes of frying, along with a little more soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine and just a dash of chicken stock before adding some rice noodles and turning the heat down to allow the noodles to heat through.

While I am sure that I have ordered dishes that claim to contain Szechuan pepper, I have never really noticed them to stand out. Which probably means that the dishes that I ordered didn’t contain enough. And that is also the impression that I get from most restaurant reviews that mention them – most of them will say something like “this dish should be spicy and mouth-numbing from the Szechuan pepper but sadly isn’t”. For those that haven’t tried them, they are an interesting experience because they certainly are mouth-numbing. They have a flavour somewhat reminiscent of spicy dried citrus peel and contain a compound which numbs the tongue and gives a strange sensation in the mouth completely separate from the spiciness.

All very interesting and surprising for a first memorable Szechuan pepper experience, considering that I am sure I have eaten it several times before but not really noticed the effects very strongly. Next time we’ll look up a proper Szechuan recipe rather than just cobbling one together.

Apr 6th, 2010

9 Comments to 'Stir Fried Chicken with Szechuan Pepper'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Stir Fried Chicken with Szechuan Pepper'.

  1. Alex said,

    Looks great, despite being ‘cobbled together’ !
    .-= Alex´s last blog ..A day trip to Woodbridge =-.

  2. Helen said,

    You guys should come to Chilli Cool. Have you been?

  3. Stephen said,

    Helen, for a second I thought you meant “Cool Chile” which would have been more at home on a Mexican post 🙂

    But no, we haven’t been to Chilli Cool – would love to though.

  4. Helen said,

    Well let’s all go! perhaps in the next few weeks? I reckon you’ll both love it.
    .-= Helen´s last blog ..Mudchute Farm and Kitchen =-.

  5. Greedy Diva said,

    Hi Stephen – Great to meet you at Bibendum last night, and love the blog! Szechuan food is so popular at the moment! GD

  6. Niamh said,

    I second the Chilli Cool suggestion – I love it there! I was there only last week. I can’y believe that I have never blogged it.
    .-= Niamh´s last blog ..Recipe: Home Cured Salmon =-.

  7. Stephen said,

    Thanks Greedy Diva, was great to meet you too!

  8. Stephen said,

    Greedy Diva, was great to meet you there too! See you again at the semi-finals?

  9. Kerri said,

    Yes, let’s go to Chilli Cool! I’ll be in touch.

:: Trackbacks/Pingbacks ::

No Trackbacks/Pingbacks

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.