Hong Shao Chicken

‘Hong shao’ apparently comes from the Mandarin, and means ‘red cooked’, describing the deep brown colour that comes from combining soy, sugar and spices in the sauce ingredients.  This uses a velveting technique to keep the chicken tender, and with careful planning can be managed with a single wok.  This would be great with firm white fish, although probably wouldn’t need so long to marinade.  A mildly spicy dish, the Sichuan pepper adds no real heat, but more of a citrusy flavour which can be a little bitter.  For more heat, add fresh chilli and/or sliced ginger in with the pepper and onions

Serves 4

Prep time: 30 minutes, cook in: 15 minutes

  • 500g Chicken Breast, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1–2 Tbsp cornflour
  • 3-4 Tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 medium Onion, sliced
  • 1 Green Pepper, sliced
  • 1 handful Cashew Nuts, lightly roasted
  • 3 Spring Onions, sliced

For the sauce:

  • 250ml Water
  • 1 inch root Ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 Star Anise
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp Sichuan Peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp Chinkiang Black Rice Vinegar or Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
  • In a bowl, mix the chicken with the rice wine, egg white and cornflour with your fingers and leave to marinate for 30 minutes
  • Whilst the chicken marinates, In a small pan add all the ingredients for the sauce and cook gently until the volume is reduced by about half. The longer and slower this cooking, the more flavour will be drawn out of the spices
  • Taste the sauce.  If the Sichuan peppercorns have made this too bitter, offset with a little more vinegar. Pass the sauce through a sieve and discard the solids
  • Ideally in a non-stick pan or wok, add the oil and heat until smoking.  Fry off the chicken in batches.  NB:- The chicken should be coated in marinade, but not dripping.  You may need to drain this off first else it will stick to the bottom of the pan.  Fry the chicken for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time.  Once it is white all over, remove to a plate and drain off any excess oil.  Repeat with the next batch until all chicken is pre-cooked
  • If you didn’t use a non-stick pan, you’ll be left with marinade burnt on to the bottom of the pan.  If so, you’ll need a clean pan for the next step
  • Discard any surplus oil from the pan, and fry off the strips of onion for a minute before adding the pepper. for another minute
  • Throw in the pre-cooked chicken and the strained sauce.  Stir well to coat the chicken and continue to cook off for another couple of minutes.
  • Add the nuts and spring onions, heat through for another minute and serve with Egg Fried Rice

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