Before talking about the dish, I want to talk a little about spiciness in Chinese food. There are a few provinces in China that are famous for spicy food, ie. Sichuan, Hunan, etc. There are three basic kinds of spiciness you will encounter frequently in Chinese dishes: aromatic spiciness (“香辣”), mouth-numbing spiciness (“麻辣”) and usual hot spiciness. I personally distinguish these three by which part of my body responds to the spiciness. Aromatic spiciness apparently is mostly stimulating to your sense of smell and for example it can come from when you cook the hot pepper seeds with some sesame oil. Mouth-numbing spiciness is generally a temporary numbness to the wall of your mouth and tongue and a typical mouth-numbing spice used is Sichuan pepper corn (or flower pepper “花椒”). And usual hot spiciness comes from all kinds of hot peppers and it is most stimulating to the throat which results in a lot of water drinking.
Although, I personally think there should be another kind of “spiciness” that only stimulating to your sinus, that comes from wasabi and horseradishes, which I LOOOOOVE. Well, that’s a different story. I’ll save it for the next time.
Saliva chicken is a popular dish from Sichuan province, where the Giant Panda comes from. And its flavor combines all three kinds of spiciness mentioned above and it also has a tint of saltiness and even sweetness. Also the fact that it is a cold dish (an appetizer usually) makes it less heavy and very fresh tasting.
By the way, there is absolutely NO ingredient involving saliva from anybody in this dish. It is called saliva chicken is because it is so tasty that just thinking about it or looking at it will make you drool. Calling it “mouth-watering chicken” is probably more appropriate. Lol.
1 lbs of meaty chicken parts, eg. thighs, breasts
1 tsp of ginger, coarsely sliced
1 tsp of garlic, coarsely cut
1/2 stick of green onions, coarsely cut
2 tsp of ginger, minced
3 tsp of garlic, minced
2 tsp of sesame seeds
1 stick of green onions, finely chopped
A bunch of cilantro leaves
2 tsp of sugar
Salt and pepper
3 tsp of chinese cooking wine
2 tsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of black vinegar (or I used rice vinegar for substitute)
1 tbs of sesame oil
10-15 dried hot chili peppers, chopped (do not lose the seeds)
1 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp of chili powder
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
Boil water in a large pot. Cook the chicken with coarsely chopped garlic, ginger and green onion for about 10-20 minutes. The time really varies here depending on the thickness and the size of the piece. Time it right so it does not get overcooked. Once cooked, drain the water and run the chicken under cold water for 10-20 seconds and soak the chicken in ice. This hot to icy cold process is critical to make the meat texture great! When the sauce is being cooked, you can chopped up the chicken to bite sized chunks. The chopped chicken should be kept in a cool/cold environment before ready to serve.
In a sauce pan, heat up the sesame oil. Add garlic and ginger. Stir until you smell the aroma. Add paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper and chopped chili peppers. Cook in medium-low heat and stir until they blend well. The oil is turning red. Add sugar, cooking wine, and salt and pepper. Cook for another minute or two. Turn off the heat and add soy sauce, vinegar, sesame seeds and green onion. Stir well and let the sauce sit for 5-10 minutes. Add a layer of cilantro on top of the chopped chicken, and pour the sauce over.
This is easy to make. It is a cold dish and the spiciness brings back some appetite. A great summer dish to have at home! Enjoy!