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Szechuan Chicken

Szechuan Chicken is the Chinese chicken preparation belonging to the Sichuan Province of South Western China. This style of Chinese cooking is characterized by hot, spicy, strong, bold flavours owing to the use of chillies and the tingling flavour of Sichuan peppercorns, an indigenous ingredient with a peppery citrusy flavour. In order to prepare Szechuan Chicken, the chicken is boiled or oil-poached before cooking as this process makes the chicken very soft and tender. Sesame oil and Soy Sauce are the flavoring ingredients used in the recipe. Popular western variations of this pan-asian preparation include dishes like Szechuan Chicken Fajita and Szechuan Pork.

People of Sichuan are fond of their food that are known for their sharp, sizzling flavours. The seven base flavours most prominent in Szechuan cuisine are hot, sweet, sour, pungent, salty, bitter and aromatic. Szechuan cuisine employs the use of foods preserved through salting, dehydrating and pickling processes, involving a good deal of the signature usage of Sichuan peppercorns.

Szechuan Chicken is a chinese dish that is quite fiery in flavor. It is a must-have for those who love a bit of spice in their food. Szechuan Chicken is a far cry from the usual chinese dishes which are usually sweetish and mild in flavour. Szechuan Chicken consists of boneless chicken marinated and then stir-fried with vegetables like red peppers, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, cabbage etc, hot sauce, soy sauce, a bit of sugar and corn starch. Szechuan Chicken can be served with white rice or noodles.

Ingredients and Preparation

Other than the Szechuan peppercorns, soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine or sherry, white vinegar, chilli sauce, boneless chicken breast fillets, trimmed and cut into thin strips, peanut oil, corn flour, red capsicum, carrot, green onions and sugar make up the other ingredients.

Chicken is marinated in soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, salt, freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns. In a wok with little peanut oil, the stripped or diced chicken pieces are stir fried on a high flame till golden brown. The browned chicken is set aside. In the remaining oil, diced capsicum, carrot, onion, scallions are stir fried and then the chicken is returned back into the wok followed by cornflour slurry for thickening, vinegar, sugar, chilli sauce and fresh ground peppercorns. The greens of scallions are last added before serving hot with steamed white rice or jasmine rice.

Nutritive Analysis

A serving size of ~240 g of Szechuan Chicken would provide-

• Total calorie content of 331 calories of which calories from fat are 56.

• Total fat of 6.20 g of which saturated fat is 1.7 g, and Cholesterol content of 146 mg.

• Sodium content of 1273 mg and Potassium content of 426 mg.

• Total carbohydrate of 10.4 g of which dietary fibre accounts for 0.7 g and sugar 2.0 g with the other carbohydrate components making up the rest.

• Protein value of 54.8 g.

• It also supplies 13 % of the dv (daily value) for iron and 4 % of the dv for calcium; $ % Vitamin A and 5 % Vitamin C.

• The estimated % calorie distribution is 13 % from Fats, 11 % from carbohydrates and 76 % from proteins.

Szechuan chicken is relatively low in sugar, high in vitamins B6 and niacin, high in mineral phosphorus, calcium and quite high in selenium which

forms part of an important antioxidant complex which protects from free radical damage of internal tissues.

Nutritional Improvements

1. Use of fish in this dish can increase the omega-3 fatty acid content which has numerous health benefits in reducing heart disease risk, improving joint mobility by providing lubrication; maintaining healthy skin and vision and protecting from Alzheimers Disease among other functions.

2. Sesame and peanut oils sesame seeds, cho,pped walnuts, chopped peanuts, provide unsaturated fats that help to lower the LDL or bad cholesterol proving to be helpful for persons with high risk of coronary artery disease.