This simple and delicious chicken dish belongs to an important Szechwanese family of dishes called jiangbao — literally, “explosively fried with sauce” -all of whose members contain hoisin sauce as their main seasoning. Though definitely of Szechwanese origin, jiangbao dishes are not hot; they have a surprisingly rich, sweet taste. Jiangbao is a particularly felicitous way to cook chicken; the rich, dark sauce goes beautifully with the mild chicken, and the color contrast is attractive as well.
You may notice that in the finished dish, some of the oil separates and floats on top of the sauce. This happens in many authentic Szechwanese dishes. Though the free oil may seem unappetizing by Western standards, it is an authentic Szechwanese characteristic-and, in any case, is infinitely preferable to a thick and muddy sauce.
Peel the ginger, then chop it into tiny pieces, about the size of a match head. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of your cleaver, then peel. Chop the garlic as fine as the ginger.
Bone the chicken and pull off all the skin. Chop the meat into 1-inch cubes and put them in a bowl.
Clean the scallions, then cut them, the white part and most of the green, into ½-inch lengths.
Add the scallions to the chicken, along with the soy sauce, sesame oil, wine, and salt. Mix well and set aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Peel the ginger, then chop it into tiny pieces, about the size of a match head.
Smash the garlic cloves with the side of your cleaver, then peel. Chop the garlic as fine as the ginger.
Heat your wok or pan over a high flame for 15 seconds, then add the oil. It will be hot enough to cook with when the first tiny bubbles form and a few small wisps of smoke appear.
(garlic and ginger)
When the oil is ready, toss in the chopped ginger and garlic and stir it around in the hot oil for 10 seconds.
Add the hoisin sauce and stir-fry for 30 seconds, using your cooking shovel or spoon to keep the ingredients moving so they don’t burn or stick.
Combine the water and the chicken mixture and stir well, then add the chicken mixture to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is stiff and is completely cooked. Serve immediately.
© 1976 Ellen Schrecker. All rights reserved.