“Spicy food and I have a close relationship…an obsessive one, in fact. If it’s spicy, I want it.”
Maureen JohnsonI’m sure it’s not a secret by now for the regular readers of my blog! I do find spicy food irresistible; from the mild heat of black pepper that doesn’t hit in the face but glows beneath the surface with a steady heat to the insanely hot varieties of red chilli peppers that can make you sweat and go half blind with pain – I love them all! No, I’m not a sadist, just an adventurer! 😄

Of course I had to try this recipe. I mean, just listening to the name “Gunpowder Chicken” makes my eyes shine with joy and tastebuds dance in anticipation. Gunpowder Chicken is a Sichuan classic that has become quite popular in the Western world. As chillies are fast gaining a reputation as a healthy, metabolism boosting food, such hot and spicy recipes are becoming increasingly popular in the fitness conscious circles too.

The name is quite intriguing and I guess hints towards the bombastic heat added to the dish. Seasonings with similar name are also used in South Indian cuisine also called Molagai podia and South American cuisine. The ingredients for all three “gunpowders” are quite different but the heat factor is similar. I personally don’t find it as hot as some of the other Sichuan and Hunan dishes, specially if you add the whole dried chillies just to add flavour and don’t actually eat them in the served dish.

If you still think 8-9 dried red chillies are too many in half kg chicken, you can always reduce the quantity or remove the seeds before adding them to the pan. If you can’t find rice vinegar or Chinese black vinegar, you can substitute them with cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar for this recipe. These two varieties of vinegar are easy to find almost everywhere and are usually pantry staples. Black peppercorns are not always a substitute for Sichuan peppercorns but in this recipe serve the purpose to create another level of subtle heat in the background.


For Gunpowder Chicken:

  • 1/2 kg boneless chicken
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 8-9 dried red chillies
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns or black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  • 2 stalks spring onions
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts

For Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cube chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour

This Is What You Do:

Cut chicken into strips or bite size cubes for quick stir fry cooking. Marinate chicken in 1 tablespoon soy sauce for ten minutes.

Meanwhile mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Arrange all the ingredients required for the recipe near your cooking station because it’s a really quick process and you don’t want to burn anything.

Heat oil on medium heat in a frying pan or wok. Add chicken in batches and stir fry for 4-5 minutes or till its golden and crispy on the outside but still juicy. Remove from oil, set aside.

Add red chillies to the oil and sauté for a few seconds, taking care they don’t burn. Add the chicken back to the pan, add crushed peppercorns and peanuts. Stir fry another minute.

Pour the sauce mix in the pan and stir to coat all the ingredients. Cook till the sauce thickens.
Garnish with spring onions. Serve hot with steamed rice or noodles.

Serves 2

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