Sichuan Saliva Chicken (Kou Shui Ji)
I spent a long time deciding what to call saliva chicken. Looking at menus in Chinese restaurants and around various sites across the internet, many people translate the Chinese to ‘mouthwatering chicken’ or even ‘drool-worthy chicken’. The original Chinese name though (kou shui ji – 口水鸡) literally translates to saliva chicken, so in the spirit of keeping things as authentic as possible I’ve stuck with that. And after all, what is Chinese gastronomy without a little grossness?
Crass the name made be, but saliva chicken is a surprisingly nuanced dish, packing not only spicy chilli sauce, but also garlic, toasted sesame seeds and roasted peanuts. All of this is served cold (you literally put the chicken in an ice bath after poaching it), making the entire thing deliciously cool and refreshing, despite the spiciness.
In terms of the ingredients, the hardest thing to get hold of are the Sichuan peppercorns. Called ‘hua jiao’ in Chinese, these tiny peppers back a punch, with a single one able to numb your mouth for several minutes. It’s probably for this reason that mainstream supermarkets don’t seem to stock them, so get down to your local Chinese supermarket to stock up – they’re pretty abundant in Sichuan cooking, so you should find them easily.
Just a word on the chicken too. Many recipes advise you to use a whole chicken, as it will allow you retain the maximum amount of chicken skin – something which is favoured in saliva chicken. If you’re like me and not too confident in your knife skills then feel free to use chicken thighs or drumsticks. You may not get as clean cuts and there may not be as much skin, but it tastes just as good.
Once again, I took so long taking photos, Fen had gone out and actually eaten lunch elsewhere by the time I had finished.I saved her a bit for when she got home, but to be honest it was so delicious I pretty much ate it all myself.
- 3 tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped
- 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon red chili flakes or dried red chilis
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ? cup of oil
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 green onions
- 4 slices of ginger
- 1½ tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 400-600g chicken thigh or drumstick
- 2 green onions
- 2 slices ginger
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp chicken stock
- Lightly roast the peanuts and sesame seeds. Finely chop the peanuts then combine in a bowl. Add the chilli flakes then set aside
- Heat the oil over a medium hear, then add the green onions, ginger, star anise, garlic, Sichuan peppercorns and cinnamon stick (don’t use a high heat as these can easily burn). Cook for a while into the flavours have infused the oil and it all smells aromatic
- Discard spices, poor the oil into the peanut/sesame sesame seed mixture, then set aside
- Fill a pot with enough water to submerge the chicken, then bring to boil. Add the chicken, wait until the water boils again (if it stops due to the temperature change), then turn off the heat, and leave to poach for 20 minutes
- Prepare an ice bath. Once 20 minutes have passed, take the chicken out the pot and allow it to fully cool in the bath. Once cooled, slice into long vertical pieces with the skin on top, and place on serving plate
- Take all the ingredients listed in step 3 above and mix them into a bowl. Combine with the peanut and sesame seed mixture in step 1. Pour the mixture over the chicken and serve
Based on recipe from The Woks of Life