szechuan ‘saliva’ or mouth-watering chicken (四川口水鸡)

I apologize for the strange title of this dish.

In my defense, I didn’t name the dish – it is a direct translation from its Chinese name. I wonder who’d thought of naming a dish, ‘Saliva Chicken’? 

I guess it has to be the same people who cannot stop salivating when they see this dish.

Indeed, this is one drool-worthy chicken dish.

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I made this dish from scratch – I had some time this morning and I was happy to potter around in the kitchen. But it does not mean that you can’t cook this if you don’t have as much time. It just means that you have to make some substitutions here and there. 

In terms of taste, this dish is worth every bit of effort one puts in. The chicken is succulent and very juicy, and the sauce is so delicious, I can see why many people make extra portions and use them to cook other dishes! 

One key point to note is that when you poach a chicken, you place the chicken with the other ingredients and the liquid in a pot, bring it to a boil, then start timing it. So, you can actually take the chicken out of the fridge and start cooking immediately – there is no need to wait for the chicken to come to room temperature.

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Another important point is that while you can use a stainless steel pot to cook this, poaching the chicken in a Le Creuset cast iron pot will yield better results. This is because of the heat-retention abilities of Le Creuset’s cast iron pots. This means that the chicken is cooked evenly and the entire chicken stays juicy.

Let me show you how to cook this deliciously moreish chicken.

Start by making the chili oil. Of course, if you are busy, you can skip this step and use store-bought chili oil. Having said that, it really is not that much trouble to make this, and the best thing about making your own chili oil is that you can adjust the taste of the oil to your liking.

To make the Sezchuan style chili oil, add chili powder, five spice powder, Szechuan peppercorn (or powder) and sesame seeds in a heat-proof bowl. Whisk to mix evenly.

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In a heavy-bottom saucepan, add vegetable oil to ginger, star anise, cumin, dried chili pepper and bay leaves.

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Heat this over low heat. When the oil is hot (you will see bubbles), carefully take the ginger and all the other ingredients out of the oil and discard. Pour this oil into the bowl containing the chili powder and whisk until combined. Set this aside.

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In a frying pan, roast the peanuts over low heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning the peanuts. Again, if you are pressed for time, you can always use store-bought ground peanuts!

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When the peanuts are roasted, let them cool completely before placing them in a clean and dry tea towel. Rub to remove the skin.

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Pound or grind the peanuts – leave some slightly more chunky.

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Clean the (headless, feetless and buttless) chicken and rub some salt all over it. Let it sit for 5 minutes before rinsing off the salt completely. Place the chicken in a pot. Add ginger, spring onion, Shaoxing wine and enough water to cover the chicken.

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Bring the water to a boil. Once it starts to boil, start the timer and continue to boil, uncovered, for 8 minutes. If your chicken is bigger, you will need to cook longer.

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At the end of this time, turn off the heat. Cover the pot and allow the chicken to simmer for about 10 minutes.

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This is where I adore my Le Creuset French cast iron pot. This superb pot it has a very high volumetric heat capacity, which means that once it is hot, it stays hot. In addition, cast iron, has a whopping .64 emissivity rating (as compared to a .07 emissivity rating for stainless steel), and this means that when you are cooking in the pot, you are not just cooking the surface in contact with the metal, but you are cooking a good deal of food above it as well. 

This all translates to me knowing that the chicken will simmer using the heat from the water which has been kept hot by the cast iron pot. This is why when I poach chicken with this pot, the chicken always turns out perfectly cooked. 

Transfer the chicken into a big bowl if ice water. Let the water cool the chicken completely. If your bowl is not big enough, you may have to turn the chicken a few times.

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Meanwhile, make the sauce (SLURP!) by combining Szechuan chili oil, black vinegar, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, sugar, salt, light soy sauce, minced garlic, minced spring onion and minced coriander in a small bowl.

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Cut the chicken into pieces, and spoon the sauce over the chicken.

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Sprinkle ground peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, and chopped spring onion and coriander.

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Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Note: The Le Creuset French ovens are really easy to care for. Since the base and sides are coated with enamel, all one has to do after using is to clean with warm water, soap and a sponge. In the event that stubborn stains remain, light rub with a melamine sponge (like those you can buy from Daiso) and all the stains will come off easily! 

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Date: Saturday 18 February 2017

Workshop: Hands-on Chiffon Cakes Workshop

Time: 9.00am – 12.00pm

Venue: The Eureka Cooking Lab

Tickets Link > CLICK HERE

Szechuan ‘Saliva’ Or 'Mouth-Watering' Chicken (四川口水鸡)
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 whole chicken (about 2lb or 1kg)
  2. 4 slices ginger
  3. 2 sprigs spring onion
  4. 1 tablespoon (15ml) Shaoxing wine
  5. Peanuts, toasted and crushed
  6. White sesame seeds, toasted
For the Szechuan chili oil
  1. 2 slices ginger
  2. 2 star anise
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin
  4. 4-6 dried chili peppers
  5. 2 bay leaves
  6. 2 tablespoons chili powder
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn (or powder)
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  9. 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
For the sauce
  1. 4-6 tablespoons (60 - 90ml) Szechuan chili oil
  2. 2 tablespoons (30ml) black vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon (15ml) sesame oil
  4. 2 tablespoon (15ml) Shaoxing wine
  5. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  6. pinch of salt
  7. 2 tablespoons (30ml) light soy sauce
  8. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  9. 1 sprig spring onion, minced
  10. Minced coriander
Instructions
  1. To make the Sezchuan style chili oil, add chili powder, five spice powder, Szechuan peppercorn (or powder) and sesame seeds in a heat-proof bowl. Whisk to mix evenly.
  2. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, add vegetable oil to ginger, star anise, cumin, dried chili pepper and bay leaves.
  3. Heat this over low heat. When the oil is hot (you will see bubbles), carefully take the ginger and all the other ingredients out of the oil and discard. Pour this oil into the bowl containing the chili powder and whisk until combined. Set this aside.
  4. In a frying pan, roast the peanuts over low heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning the peanuts. Again, if you are pressed for time, you can always use store-bought ground peanuts!
  5. When the peanuts are roasted, let them cool completely before placing them in a clean and dry tea towel. Rub to remove the skin.
  6. Pound or grind the peanuts – leave some slightly more chunky.
  7. Clean the (headless, feetless and buttless) chicken and rub some salt all over it. Let it sit for 5 minutes before rinsing off the salt completely. Place the chicken in a pot. Add ginger, spring onion, Shaoxing wine and enough water to cover the chicken.
  8. Bring the water to a boil. Once it starts to boil, start the timer and continue to boil, uncovered, for 8 minutes. If your chicken is bigger, you will need to cook longer.
  9. At the end of this time, turn off the heat. Cover the pot and allow the chicken to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  10. Transfer the chicken into a big bowl if ice water. Let the water cool the chicken completely. If your bowl is not big enough, you may have to turn the chicken a few times.
  11. Make the sauce by combining Szechuan chili oil, black vinegar, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, sugar, salt, light soy sauce, minced garlic, minced spring onion and minced coriander in a small bowl.
  12. Cut the chicken into pieces, and spoon the sauce over the chicken.
  13. Sprinkle ground peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, and chopped spring onion and coriander.
  14. Serve immediately.
Adapted from China Sichuan Food
Adapted from China Sichuan Food
The Domestic Goddess Wannabe http://thedomesticgoddesswannabe.com/
Disclaimer: While this post was brought to you by Le Creuset, The Domestic Goddess Wannabe uses her Le Creuset Fench ovens on a very regular basis and hopes that you too, will discover the beauty of cooking with Le Creuset products!




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