Traditionally this classic Sichuan chicken dish gets its name from the sound of the hammering of the meat after poaching. The process would further loosen and tenderise the meat, producing an extremely tender chicken that was ready to be pulled and was perfect to soak the spicy sesame sauce. This dish is an excellent starter or party sharing plate and will improve in flavour overnight with the option of adding some extra Sichuan authenticity by increasing the amount of chilli oil.
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook 10 minutes (plus steeping)
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast ﬁllets about 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) total weight
- 5 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced diagonally
- 1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- Roasted sesame seeds (black or white)
- 2 teaspoons sichuan peppercorns (see note)
- 2 teaspoons ﬁnely grated fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
- 80 g (2¾ oz) sesame paste or tahini
- 2½ tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2½ tablespoons Chinese black vinegar (see note) or rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon roasted chilli oil, or to taste
Serving suggestion: serve with rice noodles
NOTES: Sichuan peppercorns are dried seed pods from a species of prickly ash and have a distinctive mouth-numbing effect. They are available from Asian grocers and spice specialists.
Chinese black vinegar is a dark vinegar made from glutinous rice and has a deep smoky ﬂavour. Chinkiang vinegar is widely considered to be the best. It’s available from some supermarkets and Asian grocers, or you can substitute regular rice vinegar.
1. Put the chicken in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover, bring to the boil then remove from heat and set aside to steep for 20–25 minutes until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool, reserving the poaching liquid.
2. Meanwhile, to make the sesame sauce, dry-fry the sichuan peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium–high heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 seconds or until toasted and fragrant. Cool slightly, transfer to a mortar and use the pestle to grind to a powder, then pound in the ginger and garlic to form a paste.
3. Whisk the sichuan pepper mixture with the remaining sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Thin with a little of the poaching liquid to make a drizzling consistency (the remaining poaching liquid can be used as a light chicken stock in other recipes).
4. Shred the chicken into small pieces and combine in a bowl with the sesame sauce to taste. Toss to combine and serve topped with the spring onion, cucumber and sesame seeds.