I always like being positively surprised by recipes I don’t expect much from, particularly if they are as simple as this one. You steam or boil a chicken breast, slice it, add some green onion, drizzle it with chilli oil sauce and you obtain a light, cooling summer dish with a spicy kick that completely transforms the delicate white meat. When I took the first bite I couldn’t believe such a complex taste can be obtained in such a short time, with so few ingredients and with hardly any effort.
This cold chicken dish that I have allowed myself to call a salad is another discovery from Sichuan Cookery by Fuchsia Dunlop, a book written with a huge passion for the culinary heritage of this Chinese region and full of fascinating recipes that always give delicious results. Sichuan Cookery contains several cold chicken dishes and I want to try them all this summer, so I simply started with the first on the list. I have slightly changed the amounts, so check her book to read the original recipe. Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe doesn’t contain lots of oil (I still have reduced the amounts a bit…), but from what I see on internet, this Sichuanese cold chicken is often served literally drowned in oil. If you like this dish more greasy, feel free to adapt the oil sauce’s amount.
TIP: Since my homemade chilli oil (Japanese, but definitely Chinese-inspired Taberu Rayu) is made partly with sesame oil, I have used only chilli oil, but if your hot oil is different, make sure you add some sesame oil too. It makes a huge difference in taste.
If you don’t have chilli oil with sediment, it’s very easy to prepare its simplest version: pour very hot oil (not boiling!) over chilli powder or flakes and let it cool down. The oil with have more taste every day, but you can use it as soon as it is cold.
You can used here either boiled or steamed chicken breast or sliced meat from a whole chicken.
I find this salad very flexible: it is as good served with rice as it is with bread or any carb you choose (cold noodles, tortillas, crêpes…). It works perfectly as a “topping” in a bowl of green salad leaves and as a sandwich filling.
Fuchsia Dunlop says the chicken and onion bits should be equally sized, but as you can see, I haven’t managed to do it.
Since the oil goes immediately down to the bowl’s bottom and you are left with sediment on top of chicken pieces, I would advise serving this dish on a flat plate or adding oil at the table.
Preparation: 5 minutes
Ingredients (serves one):
1 small chicken breast (boiled or steamed) or the equivalent of parts from a whole chicken, cooled and sliced diagonally
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar (agave syrup or honey)
1 teaspoon chili oil with sediment (but if your oil is without sediment, just use your clear oil)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (or double the chilli oil amount if it contains sesame oil too)
1 spring onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl stirring until the sugar is well dissolved (if using sugar).
Combine the sauce with the chicken and spring onion and serve.