Chef Jerry Traunfeld’s chicken gets just the right amount of heat from whole dried red chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. The chiles can be extremely spicy, so push them to the side of your bowl.
Slideshow: More Chinese Recipes
1 large egg white, beaten
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 cup white rice flour
2 cups canola oil
1 1/2 ounces Chinese dried red chiles
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
8 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves
How to Make It
In a medium bowl, combine the egg white, cornstarch, soy sauce, wine, sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and transfer to a large bowl. Add the rice flour and toss to coat, separating the pieces of chicken as necessary. Transfer the chicken to a colander and shake well to remove any excess rice flour.
In a wok, heat the canola oil to 300°. Add the chiles and fry until bright red and plump, about 15 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles to another large bowl.
Heat the oil to 350°. Add half of the chicken and fry over high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, crisp and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the bowl with the chiles. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the wok. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, ginger and garlic and stir-fry over moderate heat until softened but not browned, about 30 seconds. Add the scallions and stir-fry for 15 seconds. Add the chicken, chiles, sugar and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt and stir-fry until hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the basil until wilted, then transfer the chicken and chiles to a bowl and serve right away.
WINE: Fresh, lightly sweet German Riesling
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