La zi ji is a dish that is prettttty popular among Sichuan food lovers, and I can see why! Who wouldn’t like fried chicken pieces nested in tons of hot peppers? (Okay, maybe not people who don’t like spicy…) In addition to frying the chicken, most restaurant versions of this dish also coat the chicken in quite a bit of cornstarch, so then it’s like half cornstarch coating and half chicken.
I really don’t like deep frying in our apartment, because it splatters grease everywhere, and it uses up a bunch of oil, and it makes me feel guilty when I eat the food. Of course, there are obvious exceptions to this rule, but for the most part I don’t make fried foods as a habit. By pan-frying the chicken instead of deep frying, it makes la zi ji a rather simple dish to make to satisfy spicy food cravings while not splurging so much on calories.
I realized that I really like to eat this dish by getting a piece of chicken, followed by a piece of pepper (with rice, of course). Sometimes a piece of Sichuan peppercorn will also make it to the mix, for a true ma (numbing) la (spicy) taste 🙂
La zi ji
Dry Pepper Chicken
3 Tbsp oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat, diced
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Kosher salt
6-7 cloves garlic, sliced
2 slices of ginger, each about 1/4 inch thin
1 1/4 cup dried red chilies, chopped into 1 inch sections
2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1-2 tsp toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
1) Mix the chicken, cornstarch, soy sauce, and salt together in a bowl.
2) Heat a cast iron pan or skillet, then add 1 Tbsp oil. Spread the chicken pieces out so that they aren’t too crowded (I did about 4 batches). Pan-fry until they are cooked through and will ideally have some nice browning. Flip them and cook on the other side. Take out of the pan.
3) Turn the heat to low, add 2 Tbsp oil, followed by garlic, ginger, chilies, and Sichuan peppercorns. Heat on low or medium low until everything is nice and fragrant.
4) Add chicken pieces back in, and increase the heat to medium high to re-heat.
5) Garnish with sesame seeds if you wish!
-I started out with skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, and rendered some of the fat from the chicken skin for my starting oil, but didn’t have enough chicken fat, so I had to supplement with oil. I kept the chicken skin on for about half the pieces.
-If you are hungry like me and don’t have the patience to wait for all the chicken pieces to get browny before flipping the pieces, don’t worry….
-I used Tianjin dried peppers
-I am not skilled in photography, and so far pictures including white sesame seeds always make the white sesame look like something else(non-appetizing) ..I toasted the sesame seeds, though!