Top view of plate with chicken in vinegar sauce stir-fry dish.

Chicken in Vinegar Sauce (Sichuan Cu Liu Ji)

5 from 1 reviews

Juicy chicken pieces, fragrant aromatics, pickled chilies, and crunchy bamboo shoots and snow peas get stir-fried in a mouthwatering tangy, savory-sweet and spicy sauce! This Chicken in Vinegar Sauce stir-fry is quick and easy to make in under 30 minutes and super tasty with a bowl of steamed rice!



For the Chicken Marinade:

For the Sauce:

For the Stir-fry:



  1. Marinate the chicken: Clean and pat-dry the chicken breasts. Cut into ¾-inch cubes. Add to a medium bowl, along with the kosher salt, low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, sesame oil, and potato starch. Mix well to combine, then set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
  2. Make the sauce: Mix together the white sugar, kosher salt, potato starch, Chinkiang vinegar, Shao Xing rice wine, sesame oil, pure chili oil (if using), and water in a small measuring cup (for easier pouring) or bowl until combined well.
  3. Prepare the fresh/dry ingredients: Prepare the garlic, ginger, spring onion) separate the white and light green parts from the dark green parts), fresh red chilies, bamboo shoots, snow peas, and dried red chilies as indicated in the ‘ingredients’ section.
  4. Blanch the bamboo shoots: Bring a pot of water to a boil and add sliced bamboo shoots. Boil for 1-2 minutes. Drain into a fine mesh strainer and run cold water on top to stop the cooking process.

For the Chicken in Vinegar Sauce Stir-fry:

  1. Cook the chicken: Heat ¼ cup peanut oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the marinated chicken and immediately spread the pieces out in the wok. Allow to cook for 30 seconds, then stir-fry for a minute or until the chicken is 80% cooked. Switch off the heat. Hold a fine mesh strainer above the wok and transfer the chicken pieces into it, allowing the excess oil to drip back into the wok. Tip the chicken into a clean bowl and set aside. Remove all but 3 tablespoons of oil from the wok.
  2. Sauté the pickled chilies sauce: Heat the oil in the wok over medium heat. Add the pickled chilies sauce and sauté for 20 seconds.
  3. Stir-fry the aromatics: Add the spring onion white and light green parts, ginger, and garlic. Stir-fry for 20-30 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Add the chilies: Add the fresh red chilies and Chinese dried red chilies and stir-fry briefly to combine.
  5. Stir-fry the veggies: Add the bamboo shoots and snow peas and stir-fry for 1 minute until combined well and they start to soften.
  6. Add the chicken and sauce: Give the sauce a quick stir with a spoon to loosen up the potato starch that will have settled at the bottom. Add the partially cooked chicken back into the wok and pour the sauce over everything. Stir-fry for a minute until everything is coated well in the sauce it slightly thickens.
  7. Toss through spring onion: Toss through most of the spring onion dark green parts (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish) then switch off the heat.
  8. To Serve: Transfer to a serving plate or dish and garnish with the remaining spring onion. Serve immediately with warm steamed rice.


  1. Asian Pantry Sauces. Shao Xing rice wine (Chinese cooking wine) and Chinkiang vinegar (Chinese black vinegar) can be found in an Asian or Chinese supermarket, some mainstream supermarkets that are well-stocked with international ingredients, and online. Substitute dry sherry for Shao Xing rice wine (or apple juice for a nonalcoholic substitute). Substitute half white and half balsamic vinegar for Chinkiang vinegar if unavailable.
  2. Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies Sauce: Traditionally, pickled fresh er jing tiao chilies (pao la jiao – 泡辣椒) is used in this dish in the Sichuan region. As it’s not easily available outside of China, I used Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies sauce. It’s made from a blend of chopped hot red chilies, water, salt, MSG, and potassium sorbate (food preservative) and has a hot and tangy flavor. It tastes DELICIOUS and is highly addictive! Try finding it in an Asian supermarket or purchase it online. The best substitute would be sambal oelek in this application. Second best would chopped Mexican or Thai pickled red chilies.
  3. Fresh Bird’s Eye Red Chilies. Adjust quantity to taste (or omit for a milder dish) to suit your heat level preference. You can use any other small hot red chilies you like.
  4. Bamboo Shoots. This is the tender edible part of the bamboo plant and is available in canned, fresh, and frozen form. I used pre-sliced canned bamboo shoots for convenience, which can be found at Asian supermarkets and Thai grocery stores. Leftovers will keep in a sealed airtight jar filled with water in the fridge for 1-2 weeks if you change the water daily. If using fresh winter bamboo shoots, you’ll need to boil them for a few minutes longer before draining and using in this stir-fry. Substitute with peeled and julienned celtuce or celery if unavailable. Or use diced bell peppers (any color) for a similar crunchy texture.
  5. Dried Red Chilies. I used spicy Chinese Xiao Mi La dried red chilies, but any type of small Chinese or Thai dried red chilies can be used. Note that Thai Bird’s Eye dried red chilies tend to be hotter than most Chinese dried red chilies. I recommend using fewer pieces if using them. To make this dish milder, shake out the seeds after snipping the dried chilies.

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The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.