Tai Bai Chicken

Tai Bai Chicken

Another recipe from the bookmarked-for-ages pile. I've read Fuchsia Dunlop's food memoire during last year's Christmas break. Tai bai chicken is mentioned several times in the book and now I finally got around to try making it myself. I didn't bother to divide the scallions in white and green but just added them at the beginning. This recipe is well suited for the colder months because it fills the kitchen with the savoury aroma of soy sauce during the reduction step. The meat was succulent and overall this recipe is surely a keeper.

Tai Bai Chicken - Tai Bai Ji

Source: Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop


about 1 pound chicken leg or thigh meat, on or off the bone
1/2 cup peanut oil
a small handful of dried red chiles, preferably Sichuanese, snipped in half (seeds discarded)
4 Sichuanese pickled chiles, cut into 2 1/2-inch sections or
6 Thai pickled chiles with 1 tsp pickled chili paste
5 scallions cut into 2 1/2-inch sections, white and green parts separated
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or medium-dry sherry
1 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp whole Sichuan pepper
1 1/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 pinches ground white pepper to taste
1-2 tsp sesame oil


- Chop the chicken into 1 1/2-inch chunks (2-inch chunks if cutting on the bone). Season the wok,then add 1/2 cup of oiland heat over a high flame until just smoking. Add half the chicken and stir-fry for one minute, until it is white but not crisp or cooked through. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.

- Drain off all but about 3 Tbsp of oil. Return the wok to medium heat, and when the oil is hot but not smoking add the dried chiles and stir-fry until you can smell their fragrance, taking care not to let them burn. Then add the pickled chiles and paste (if using) and stir-fry untilthe oil is reddish and they smell good too. Add the scallion whites and stir-fry for another 10-20 seconds until you can smell their fragrance. (All this frying should be done over medium heat so the spices don't burn.)

- Add the stock and the chicken and season with the Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, Sichuan pepper, sugar, salt and white pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer over gentle heat for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. As the stock dries out, remove the dried chiles and scallions with a pair of chopsticks and discard them.

- When the stock has almost all evaporated, leaving just the spicy oil, add the scallion greens and stir-fry for another 30 seconds or so, until they are just cooked. Remove the wok from the heat, stir in the sesame oil, and spoon onto a serving dish.

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