Chicken with Chin Jiew

 

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In this traditional Chiu Chow dish, two ingredients particular to Chiu Chow cooks in southern China are used. The first is Sichuan peppercorns, which they call chin jiew, and which, until recently, were not used by other cooks in Guangdong. The second is what the Chiu Chow call jun jiu choi, or “pearl vegetable, ” which are wild green leaves that are shaped like tiny maple leaves. They are deep-fried and used as a garnish for many different dishes, especially chicken dishes. They are unavailable anywhere else, but large-leaf basil is a good substitute.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine teaspoons fish sauce
  • teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon double dark soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ginger juice
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons Superior Stock
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 3 cups peanut oil
  • 1 cup large basil leaves, washed and well dried
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine

Method

Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and reserve.

To make the marinade: In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Add the chicken and turn to coat evenly. Let rest for 30 minutes.

To make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and reserve.

To dry-roast the peppercorns, heat a wok over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the peppercorns and stir for 20 seconds. Lower the heat to medium and stir for 1½ minutes, or until the peppercorns release their fragrance. Turn off the heat and transfer to a bowl. Let the peppercorns cool completely, then crush or grind them coarsely with the handle of a cleaver. Or, use a mortar and pestle. Reserve.

To deep-fry the basil leaves, heat the wok over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the peanut oil and heat to 300°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Add half of the basil leaves to the hot oil and deep-fry, turning them once, for 1½ minutes, or until they are crisp and bright green. Using a Chinese strainer, remove them to a plate lined with paper towels and let them drain. Repeat with the remaining leaves. Reserve.

Heat the oil in the wok to 350°F. Add the chicken and its marinade, spreading the cubes to prevent them from sticking together. Deep-fry the cubes, turning them constantly, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using the strainer, lift out the chicken, draining well, and reserve.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok. Place the wok over high heat for 20 seconds. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add two-thirds of the scallions and all of the reserved peppercorns and cook, stirring for 45 seconds. Add the reserved chicken and Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the wine and stir to mix, turning the chicken to coat it evenly. Make a well in the center of the mixture, stir the sauce, and pour it into the well. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce is absorbed and the chicken is well coated.

Turn off the heat and transfer the chicken to a platter. Arrange the fried basil leaves around the chicken, sprinkle with the remaining scallions, and serve.