Sichuan-style chicken stir-fry

One for the spice-lovers: Sichuan-style chicken stir-fry.


450g skinless, free-range chicken breasts, cut into 3cm pieces

1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns

peanut oil, for deep frying (about 3 cups)

1 cup fresh basil leaves

4 long green shallots, finely sliced

1 tbsp shaoxing (Chinese wine)

For the marinade

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1/2 tbsp shaoxing wine

1 1/2 tsp fish sauce

1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp Chinese dark soy sauce

1 tsp chopped ginger, pounded

For the sauce

1/4 cup fresh chicken stock

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 1/4 tsp corn flour

1/2 tsp castor sugar



Mix together the marinade ingredients. Coat the chicken. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Dry roast the peppercorns in a hot wok for 20 seconds, then lower the heat and stir for about a minute until their fragrance is released. Cool, then coarsely crush them in a mortar with a pestle.

Heat the peanut oil in a wok to 150°C (use a thermometer). Ensure the basil is completely dry, then in two batches fry the leaves for 2-3 minutes until crispy and bright green. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

Heat the oil again, this time until smoking (about 180°C). Drain the chicken from the marinade, then deep-fry it, turning the pieces constantly until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and lift out the chicken, draining on paper towel.

Pour off most of the oil from the wok into a saucepan, leaving 2 tablespoons behind. Heat the wok and as the oil just begins to smoke, add the pounded peppercorns and half the shallots. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, return the chicken and stir-fry for a minute, deglazing with the shaoxing. Make a well in the centre and add the sauce. Stir fry for a final 2 minutes until the sauce is absorbed.

Turn off the heat and transfer the chicken to a platter. Garnish with remaining shallots and fried basil, then serve with steamed rice.