Sichuan-Style Chicken Salad

[Photograph: Chichi Wang]

About the author: Chichi Wang took her degree in philosophy, but decided that writing about food would be much more fun than writing about Plato. She firmly believes in all things offal, the importance of reading great books, and the necessity of three-hour meals. If she were ever to get a tattoo, it would say "Fat is flavor." Visit her blog, The Offal Cook.

Note: Sesame paste can be found in most Asian supermarkets. Middle Eastern-style Tahini or peanut butter can be used in its place.

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Sichuan-Style Chicken Salad

About This Recipe

Yield:serves 4 as an appetizer
Active time:20 minutes
Total time:45 minutes
Special equipment:2 or 3 quart saute pan or pot
This recipe appears in: Chichi's Chinese: Sichuan-Style Chicken Salad


  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken breast or legs
  • One 2-inch piece of ginger, cut into thick slices
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame paste (see note above)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons chili oil, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • A dozen sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts (optional)


  1. 1

    Place chicken, ginger, and wine in a medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to barely cover chicken. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat then reduce to lowest heat. Liquid should be barely quivering. Cook until chicken is cooked through (breasts should register 155°F on an instant read thermometer and legs should register at least 165°F).

  2. 2

    Remove chicken from the pot and place into a bowl of ice water. Leave it to cool in the water, up to 2 hours, or remove and place it in the refrigerator for longer storage. When are you ready to dress the chicken, tear the meat into slivers.

  3. 3

    Combine sugar, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame paste, sesame oil, chili oil, and sichuan peppercorns in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add chicken, scallions, cilantro, sesame seeds, and peanuts. Toss to combine and season to taste with additional chili oil, vinegar, or soy sauce as desired. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 2 days.


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