Since moving to Indiana, I’ve found fewer Chinese or Asian grocery stores (three so far), and fresh Chinese cuts of pork have been slightly harder to find, but chicken is ever-present and evermore inexpensive. So…I guess it’s time to make more chicken? Also, I find myself reverting to making dishes with pork because that’s what I love and am used to eating, so using more chicken is a culinary stretch for me 😉
My mom and grandma started having weekly get togethers at Puopuo Jia (grandma’s house) which involve sharing stories and best of all, food. Sometimes my grandma cooks, sometimes they make food together, and sometimes they find a restaurant to try together. There’s a Sichuan restaurant that they loved (where my grandma and waitress spoke in Sichuanese, which I never even knew puopuo spoke!) that my mom’s going to take me to when we visit in December! Wooo!
My mom was telling me about one of my Puopuo’s most recent food experiments; this time it was feng ji,（風雞）, which translates to ‘wind chicken,’ because part of the process involves drying the chicken outdoors. Chicken gets salted and Sichuan-peppered , put in the fridge for a few days, then is hung outside to ‘dry’ and continue in the curing. Then, you steam it and EAT IT! After all, Chinese people don’t do prosciutto, cheese and crackers as a snack;D
Puopuo used her garage for the curing step, but I have no garage or basement, nor a crafty box to ward off critters as it hangs on the balcony.
Hearing of chicken, salt, and hua jiao (Sichuan peppercorn) made me salivate and want some, too. Since I haven’t devised that box yet, I made this dish to temporarily stave off my craving for some of puopuo’s feng ji. Thanks for the inspiration, Puopuo!
Turns out that this was quite tasty- the hua jiao does not overwhelm the chicken, and yet lends a nice different taste than ‘typical’ stir-fries. The carrots stay rather firm and don’t produce much water, so even if you stove is weaksauce, your stir-fry will not boil 😀 This was NOT created to be a spicy dish; the hua jiao are just supposed to give the chicken a little something. You can certainly add dried hot peppers with the oil at the beginning, if you wish.
Hua Jiao Ji Si Dou Gan (my best idea for a name)
Peppercorn Chicken and Bean Curd
-1-2 Tbsp canola oil
-6-7 ounces chicken (dark or white), thinly sliced
-1 to 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
-1 1/2 tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns
-8 ounces bean curd, thinly sliced
-2-3 small carrots, thinly sliced
-3/4 cup (about one handful) fresh wood ear mushrooms ( 木耳 or mu er ), coarsely chopped
-2-3 scallions, cut into 2-3 inch sections
-Soy sauce to taste
1) Season the chicken with the salt and peppercorns, then slice the other ingredients.
2) Heat a pan, then when it is hot, add oil. Add the chicken and cook until chicken is just cooked, then remove from the pan.
3) Add the bean curd, carrots, and mu er, and cook until the mu er and carrots are cooked. (Try some!)
4) Add the scallions, then add the cooked chicken back in.
5) Season with soy sauce.
-I love the pop of black that the mu er adds to the dish, but you can leave it out if you don’t have any.
-You can certainly change up the amounts of ingredients to fit your taste.