Spicy fried chicken bites are drenched in a hot Szechuan sauce and tossed with thin noodles for a delicious meal in a bowl. Served with an aromatic and nutty chili oil oozing with umami flavor, this is your favorite Chinese takeout style meal done right at home!
I love a good noodle bowl. Perfectly al-dente noodles topped with tiny bites of succulent chicken and vegetables drenched in a spicy sauce always gets my taste-buds tingling with anticipation.
There are tons of flavor combinations when it comes to putting together a noodle bowl. If you have the know-how and the means to source some authentic Chinese ingredients, it is quite interesting to experiment with flavors. Nowadays, most supermarkets stock everything you need in their ethnic aisle.
A hot wok and a killer sauce are the obvious stars to a good Chinese style stir fry. And though I’ve never quite mastered the art of using chopsticks, I like to pretend that I can actually pull it off!!
But first, let us talk about my favorite Chinese stir fry condiment, one which is easily made at home with just two ingredients – chili oil. All you need are a bunch of dried red chilies (whole or flakes) and oil. You can use sesame oil for a powerhouse of flavors, but I just use a neutral oil like vegetable or canola oil.
Add the chilies in the oil, bring it to a gentle boil, then gently simmer till the oil is a deep red color. At this point, you will find that the oil is not pungent with the chilies, but has a pleasing nutty, umami aroma to it. Cooled and stored in glass jars, this is my go-to Chinese condiment. I use it for stir fries, top my noodles and fried rice with it and even fry eggs in this delicious all-in-one homemade chili oil. Surprisingly, the oil itself is not extremely spicy, but you do get a kick if you eat the chili seeds.
Sichuan cuisine (also szechuan, schezuan or schezwan) is characterized by the use of chilies, garlic and Sichuan peppers which give it some bold, pungent, spicy flavors. It is extremely popular in its varied and derived forms all over the world. I grew up eating an Indo-Chinese version of sichuan chicken which made use of weird ingredients like ketchup and a unique Indian blend of Maggi brand of chili-garlic sauce. Since moving to the US, I’ve become addicted to spicy kung pao chicken which is the most famous Sichuan dish here.
But today’s recipe is another classic, a stir fry with tons of red chilies, garlic, a spicy sauce and fried chicken pieces. Popularly known as laziji or chongqing chicken, but let’s not get too carried away with the name. Let’s just put it this way; if ever you need a spicy szechuan chicken recipe, then should be “IT”.
It’s extremely addictive on its own, but served up over some noodles drenched in the chili oil, it is gone in no time at all.
The recipe calls for ground Sichuan peppers, but you could replace it with white pepper powder in a pinch. It also calls for cooking rice wine, but a dash of rice vinegar and sugar should suffice. Always taste-test your marinade and stir-fry sauce and keep adjusting the flavors to suit your taste. Some like it spicy, some like it with a hint of sweetness, some like it tangy. Play around with the sauces till you have something that you like. It’s not rocket science.
And soon you will be rewarded with an amazing one-bowl meal. You might wonder if you can skip frying the chicken, and you probably could. But the crisp coating on the chicken is what makes it so irresistible, so give it a try sometime. As the cool kids say, “YOLO!!”
- Oil - 1 cup (either vegetable or canola oil)
- Chili flakes - 2 tbsp, heaped
- Chicken - ½ lb, boneless
- Soy sauce - 2 tsp
- Ground sichuan peppers - 1 tsp (see Notes)
- Egg white - 1, beaten
- Cornstarch - ½ cup
- Oil - 3-4 tbsp
- Chili paste - 2 tbsp
- Soy sauce - 1 tbsp
- Rice wine - 2 tbsp (see Notes)
- Water or chicken stock - 3 tbsp
- Cornstarch - 1 tsp
- Chili oil - 2 tbsp
- Green onion - 2 stalks, chopped
- Garlic - 6 cloves, smashed
- Ginger - 1 tbsp, grated
- Dried red chilies - 8-10
- Carrots - ¼ cup, julienned (optional)
- Snap peas - 8-10, steamed (optional)
- Noodles - 4 oz (see Notes)
- Chili oil: Take oil and chili flakes in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Oil should be a deep red color and smell nutty. Cool completely and store in glass jars. This oil should keep well for several weeks.
- Marinating and frying chicken: Cut chicken into small pieces. Mix well with marinade ingredients (soy sauce, ground peppers and egg white). Rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Heat 3-4 tbsp oil in a wok or deep skillet till it shimmers. Lightly dredge the chicken pieces in cornstarch, shake off excess and drop in the oil. Cook till crisp and browned on one side, then cook the other side. Drain and set aside on a plate. Remove any excess oil from pan.
- Stir-fry & Noodle bowl: Prepare noodles as per package instructions. Set aside. You can toss cooked noodles with a few drops of sesame oil and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Mix sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Heat chili oil in a large wok. Add white parts of chopped green onions, garlic and ginger and saute for a few seconds.
- Add dried red chilies and toss on medium heat so that they do not burn. Add carrots and snap peas and saute till tender-crisp.
- Now return the fried chicken to the wok along with prepared sauce. Toss to coat chicken with sauce and allow sauce to thicken. Immediately stir in the cooked noodles.
- Pile onto bowls and serve warm drizzled with more chili oil and a sprinkling of chopped green onions.
2. If you cannot find cooking rice wine, use rice vinegar plus a tablespoon of sugar. You can also use white vinegar in a pinch, but reduce the amount as it is stronger than rice vinegar.
3. I like to add some vegetables to my stir-fries for color, texture and taste. You may omit them entirely or replace with your favorite vegetables.
4. The noodles that you use is a matter of personal preference. But I do find that thin egg noodles work best in this recipe.
5. You can make a big batch of chili oil and store it for several weeks. You can also multi-task and cut your hand-on time by cooking the noodles while frying the chicken.
PS: Want to make your own chili paste for this recipe? I’ve got a recipe for you here.
Do try this spicy szechuan chicken noodles and let me know how you like it.
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Do you like spicy Chinese food? Do you have a favorite cuisine? Do you make noodle bowls? Do share.
Here are more Chinese recipes for you to try.
- Kung pao chicken noodle bowl.
- Cashew chicken (in slow cooker!).
- Shrimp hakka noodles.
- Baozi – steamed meat buns.
- Chicken fried rice.
- Vegetable lo mein.
- Egg drop soup.
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I am sharing this over at Fiesta Friday.