Schezwan chicken or szechuan chicken recipe is one of the popular restaurant style chicken appetizers served across the globe. It has originated from the Chinese cuisine but we get to see distinct versions and the recipe shared here is from the Indo chinese cuisine. I am sharing the most common version that lends wonderful flavors of Sichuan peppers.
It’s an easy and delicious chicken starter that can be made under 30 minutes. It tastes mildly spicy, not as much as it looks in pics. It gets the dark color from soya sauce, sugar and red chili sauce (paste or spice).
The main ingredient in schezwan recipes is the sichuan pepper or schezwan pepper also called as chinese coriander. It lends a flavor and aroma that is unique and hence the foods made using sichuan pepper have a special flavor.
To make szechuan chicken we need not make a bottle of schezwan sauce, instead we can make an easy instant schezwan sauce just enough for this recipe. If you are using bottled store bought szechaun sauce, you can cut short the recipe and skip steps 1, 6, 7, 8 and 9 from the step by step photo guide.
To make schezwan chicken, capsicum and spring onions are used to add more flavors. For an authentic touch, chinese cooking wine or sherry has to be used along with other sauces, which I have not.
Picture of sichuan pepper or schezwan pepper.
To make mouth melting tender chunks of szechuan chicken, I highly suggest using tender chicken. If it is not tender, We need to brine it. Simple ways to brine the chicken are to soak it in vinegar, salt and water solution or diluted yogurt (buttermilk) for 2 hours to overnight. Drain off the next morning. Use as mentioned in the recipe.
You can check an easy and quick schezwan chicken fried rice here.
Recipe of schezwan chicken below
- 250 grams or ½ lb cubed boneless chicken
- ½ tbsp. soya sauce
- ¼ tbsp. vinegar
- Little salt
- ¼ tsp of pepper powder (optional)
- 1 to 2 tbsp. Corn starch (white corn flour) (optional but recommended)
- 1 tsp red chilli powder / paprika or 12 red chilies(less spicy variety)
- 1 tsp oil
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1½ to 3 tsp. hot water (or as needed)
- ¾ tsp Sichuan peppers crushed (refer notes)
- ½ tbsp. ginger minced (½ tsp more, optional)
- ¾ tbsp. garlic minced (½ tsp more, optional)
- ½ tbsp. soya sauce (naturally brewed)
- ¼ tbsp. vinegar
- Salt as needed
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil preferred (any other oil will just work fine)
- 1 small onion thinly sliced (for sauce)
- 1 medium onion for seasoning (optional)
- ¾ to 1 cup bell peppers/ capsicum cubed
- 2 to 3 sprigs of spring onion
- If you do not have red chili sauce, make it by mixing together ingredients under to make red chilli sauce. Set aside.
- To tenderize the chicken either use meat tenderizer or soak it in a mixture made of 3 tbsps yogurt with one cup of water for overnight or at least 2 hours. Drain off.
- Marinate with ingredients mentioned under marination. Keep aside for 15 minutes. Sprinkle corn flour and toss.
- Deep fry in hot oil or grill it until done.
- To a pan, add little oil and heat up. Saute ginger garlic, sliced onions and Sichuan peppers until onions turn golden.
- Add red chili sauce, soya sauce, vinegar and very little salt.
- Stir and cook until thick sauce like mixture forms.
- Add more ginger garlic if desired, onions and saute until the onions turn transparent.
- Add bell peppers and saute for few minutes.
- Add 2 to 3 tbsp. water and allow to thicken.
- Add chicken and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Garnish schezwan chicken or szechuan chicken with spring onion greens.
If chicken is not tender, it can be soaked in buttermilk overnight and refrigerated. It tenderizes the meat well. Next morning drain off completely and use.
How to make szechuan chicken recipe
1. For this recipe, we need red chilli sauce. Bottled ready red chilli sauce can be used as needed or make fresh using my tips. If you do not have red chilli sauce – Make a fine paste of 1 tsp paprika or red chili powder or 6 to 8 red chilies, 1 tsp oil and half tsp sugar with 4 tsp. hot water. Beat the mixture with a fork, if needed add 1 to 2 tsps. more hot water. Our red chilli sauce is ready. Set this aside.
2. This step is optional. This step helps to get very soft tender chunks of chicken. If your chicken is not tender, I suggest using meat tenderizer or buttermilk. To make buttermilk, add 3 tbsp. Yogurt to 1 cup of water and whisk it well. Add ½ lb or 250 grams of chicken to this and refrigerate for overnight or at least 2 hours. Drain up the buttermilk and use.
3. To the chicken, add ½ tbsp. soya sauce, ¼ tbsp. vinegar, little salt and optional ingredient i.e. ¼ tsp of pepper powder. Mix and set aside for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile you can prepare peppers, spring onions, onions, ginger garlic.
4. After 15 minutes, add 1 tbsp. corn starch to chicken and mix well.
5. Shallow fry or deep fry to suit your taste. It can also be grilled and used. If you like to pan fry, skip using corn flour. You can also cook the chicken in a pot on a low flame until done. I shallow fried it until lightly golden. Drain them.
6. All the further steps have to be done on a high flame or high heat to get the authentic chinese smoky flavor. Transfer the oil to a small pot and retain little in the pan. Or you can use a fresh pan. Add 1 tsp each of ginger garlic, 1 thinly sliced onion and 1 tsp lightly crushed Sichuan peppers.
7. Saute until onions turn golden.
8. Add ½ tbsp. soya sauce, ¼ tbsp. vinegar, and red chilli sauce from step 1 and little salt. To make the red chili sauce, you can also make a paste of the red chilies if you do not have red chili powder or paprika. Remove the seeds from red chilies and soak them in hot water for about 20 minutes. Blend them with sugar, oil and little water. This works well when we use at least 1/2 kg or 1 lb chicken otherwise there will be few chilies needed and the paste may not be smooth when blended.
9. Mix everything well and saute until a sauce like consistency forms. Slide the sauce to one side of the pan.
10. Add ½ tsp each of ginger garlic if desired, green onions, and sliced onions. Toss them well for 2 to 3 minutes.
11. Add bell peppers and sprinkle very little salt. Saute for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the peppers begin to smell good.
12. Add 2 to 3 tbsp. water and cook it until the sauce begins to bubble. It has to thicken as well.
13. Add chicken.
14. Toss and fry for 3 to 4 minutes.
Garnish with green onions. Serve as a appetizer or as a side to fried rice.