If you like spicy food, especially spicy Chinese food, this Sichuan style spicy chicken salad will become one of your favorites. The spiciness is perfectly blended with a touch of tangy flavor and sweetness. Remember to save room for dessert because you won’t be able to stop eating this savory chicken salad.
The key to this dish is the spicy sauce/dressing for the salad. The spiciness in this dish is from red chili pepper, crushed chili pepper, and freshly ground red pepper corn. To balance the pungent flavor of these peppers, I added a small amount of agave nectar and apple cider vinegar. In addition to all of those bold flavors, adding some white sesame and chopped fresh cilantro gives the whole dish an extra aroma, taste, and appealing look. The ingredients in this sauce become thoroughly absorbed into the shredded chicken, making this an adventurous dish that adds interest and activity in the mouth to the extreme.
This recipe is ready to eat in 30 minutes from start to finish. First, I boiled, followed by simmering a few chicken thighs in a saucepan for about 20 minutes. After cooling them down to the point you can handle them, I hand shredded them. While the chicken thighs are cooking, you can prepare the sauce. I like this dish very much because it is so simple to make. It can even be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a few days. This makes it an ideal dish for those of you who have busy schedules.
This robustly flavored Chinese style chicken salad is great on steamed rice, pasta dishes, or filling in steamed buns. However, you are not limited to serving it these Chinese ways. I wrapped them in yellow corn tortillas with other green leafy vegetables the other day, and I really enjoyed this simple and tasty lunch.
- 5 chicken thighs with skin and bones removed or 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 5 cups water
- 1 tsp red pepper corn powder
- 1 red chili pepper sliced
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp paprika powder
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbs white sesame
- 2 tbs canola oil
- 2 tsp soy sauce gluten-free if desired
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp agave nectar
- 3 tbs chicken broth
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Place chicken thighs and water in a saucepan. After bringing the water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Save the broth for later uses.
- Cool the cooked chicken until it can be handled. Remove the skin, bones, and extra fat. Shred the meat apart by hand or forks. Place the shredded chicken in a large mixing bow and set aside.
- Making the spicy sauce: While the chicken is cooking and cooling, mix the spices, salt, and sesame in a heat-proof bowl. Heat a skillet over high heat until it is hot. Turn the heat down to medium and add oil. Wait for 10 seconds till the oil is hot. Pour the hot oil into the bowl with spices. Stir briefly. Wait for 20 seconds and add the remaining ingredients except cilantro.
- Pour the spicy sauce over the shredded chicken and gently mix together. Toss in cilantro before serving.
1. To make the fresh red pepper corn powder, I used a mini grinder (or small coffee grinder) to grind them to a powder. The store bought powder doesn’t have as strong a flavor as the fresh ground powder.
2. You can omit the red chili pepper to adjust the spiciness to be mild.
3. This dish can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for up to two days.