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Hunan Chicken

Hunan chicken is a popular Chinese main dish. This chicken dish is also known as Ma La Tze Gee. Hunan chicken is commonly prepared with ginger, soy sauce, sherry, green onion and chili peppers. The chicken is generally marinated in sherry, soy sauce, and fresh ginger then stir-fried with green onions and chili peppers for a flavored chicken.

Hunan Chicken is a speciality chicken preparation that belongs to the Hunan Cuisine also known as Xiang Cuisine, one of the 8 prominent local cuisines of China and is famed for its spicy flavours, deep dark colours and fresh aromas. It is a much appreciated dish that finds place in the main course of the meal and may be accompanied by rice or noodles.

Ingredients and Preparation

Major ingredients used in the making of Hunan chicken are- chicken (thigh or drumstick) made into bite sized chunks, pepper, salt, sugar, dark soy sauce, chilli bean sauce, Chinese Black vinegar, Chinese wine or sherry, red chillies, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, peanut oil, and scallion.

The chicken pieces are mixed with salt and fresh roasted and ground pepper and set aside. Little sugar is dissolved in wine and soy sauce mixture which is then poured over the chicken. In some peanut oil heated in a wok, dry red chillies are fried followed by sliced scallion, ginger and garlic. Chicken pieces along with marinade are added after the rawness disappears, and stir fried on high flame till chicken changes color. Then it is cooked on low heat till chicken becomes tender. Finally, sesame oil, vinegar and chilli bean sauce combined together are added and stirred with the chicken till the sauce reduces and coats all the chicken pieces. Taste best when served hot with steamed rice.

Nutritive Value

A serving size of 1 cup ~100 g of fried yuca would provide-

• Total calorie content of 256 calories of which calories from fat are 103.

• Total fat is 11.8 g of which saturated fat is 1.0 g. Cholesterol content is 70 mg.

• Sodium content is 210 mg

• Total carbohydrate is 34.8 g of which dietary fibre accounts for 3.4 g and sugar 2.6 g

• Protein value is 29 g.

• The estimated % calorie distribution is 29.4 % from Fats, 38.5% from carbohydrates and 32.1 % from proteins.

Nutritional Improvements

1. Some broccoli, bok choy, spinach or other greens would provide a good amount of fibre and add a good deal of vitamin A, C and K, folates and minerals such as iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium. These nutrients are important for healthy heart function, nervous system activities and it is known that fibre rich food aids weight loss and cholesterol management, lowering the LDL cholesterol.

2. Bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and carrots may be added to increase the Vitamin A, carotene, lycopene and other antioxidants that provide protection from free radical damage thus preventing the development of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer among other health issues.

3. This is a dish that has high sodium content owing to the addition of soy sauce, and salt for marination. Use of pepper, garlic, lime juice, vinegar etc may be made instead of salt, in order to make the Hunan chicken suitable to those with elevated blood pressure.

4. Garlic and ginger with cholesterol lowering and anti-inflammatory effects used in good amounts along with other spices help strengthen immune system functions.

Suggested Accompaniments

Since this is a spicy, flavour-rich dish, a chilled pomegranate juice, or an iced lemon tea would soothe the taste buds, at the same time adding good anti-oxidant value.