Sichuan Chili Garlic Chicken Fried Rice (Yu Xiang Style)
This Chili Garlic Chicken Fried Rice is made Sichuan “Yu Xiang” style with tender shredded chicken, cloud ear mushrooms, bean sprouts and plenty of garlic and chilies in a mouthwatering spicy-sweet and tangy sauce. It’s easy to make and a must-try for spicy fried rice lovers!
I married my love for ALL types of fried rice and Yu Xiang Chicken to create this stunning showstopper that is guaranteed to tingle your tastebuds!
We have silky smooth tender chicken strips, Lao Gan Ma’s addictive pickled chilies sauce, chewy cloud ear mushrooms, crisp mung bean sprouts, and the BEST garlicky, spicy, slightly tangy and sweet flavors!
What are Yu Xiang dishes?
“Yu xiang” literally translates to fish-fragrant. However, there are no fish ingredients nor any fishy smell in this chili garlic chicken fried rice. The name comes from the ingredients used and style of cooking for a traditional spicy, sweet and sour Sichuan fish dish with a hot garlic sauce. Essentially, “yu xiang” dishes are dishes with a hot chili garlic sauce.
Why This Recipe Works
- Quick and easy to make. It’s ready to go in just 35 minutes and a weeknight winner!
- Flavor EXPLOSION! It’s garlicky, spicy, slightly sweet, tangy and full of addictive BIG and BOLD flavors!
- Incredibly tender chicken. Slicing the chicken into thin strips, marinating it, and par-cooking it before finishing it off in the fried rice allows it to stay tender and silky smooth.
- Customizable. You can use shredded chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or even a plant-based meat or pan-fried tofu cubes to make it vegetarian.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutes
- Marinated Chicken: I used boneless and skinless chicken breasts here. They’re easier to slice into thin slivers than thighs because they’re more firm. However, you can use boneless and skinless chicken thighs if you prefer. The chicken is marinated with low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, kosher salt, potato starch and sesame oil. (See ‘Variations’ section below for other protein options.)
- Lao Gan Ma Pickled Red Chilies Sauce: Traditionally, pickled fresh er jing tiao chilies (pao la jiao – 泡辣椒) is used in “yu xiang” dishes in the Sichuan region. I find that Lao Gan Ma Pickled Red Chilies sauce is an excellent substitute. It has a similar and delicious hot and tangy flavor profile! Look for it an Asian or Chinese supermarket, or purchase it online. Substitute with sambal oelek or chopped Mexican or Thai pickled red chilies to yield a similar flavor.
- Fresh Bird’s Eye Red Chilies: You can use any small hot red chilies that are easily available in your area. Leave them out or use less for a milder dish.
- Dried Cloud Ear or Wood Ear Mushrooms: Chinese black fungus – wood ear mushrooms are traditionally used in “yu xiang” dishes. I used dried cloud ear mushrooms instead as they’re both similar in appearance, texture, and taste. If using dried mushrooms, soak them in a bowl of water to rehydrate before slicing and briefly blanching. If using fresh mushrooms, you’ll only need to rinse and slice them before blanching. Feel free to swap for dried or fresh shiitakes or other mushrooms of your choice.
- Rice: I used cooked day old Thai jasmine rice. Any long grain white rice will work, but day old cooked rice that has been refrigerated is best. It will be drier after being in the fridge overnight and will be less likely to become mushy during stir-frying.
- Shao Xing Rice Wine: A fragrant Chinese cooking wine commonly used in marinades and sauces. Grab a bottle at your local Asian or Chinese supermarket, or in a mainstream supermarket that is well-stocked with international ingredients. You can substitute with dry sherry, or use apple juice instead if you prefer not to cook with alcohol.
- White Sugar: To balance out all the hot garlicky flavors. Feel free to add more or less to taste.
- Chinkiang Vinegar: A Chinese black vinegar that can be found in Asian or Chinese supermarkets. If unavailable, substitute with half balsamic and half white vinegar to yield a similar flavor.
- Dark Soy Sauce: Mainly used for color and is less salty than regular soy sauce. Substitute with low sodium light soy sauce in a pinch.
- Chili Oil (optional): A pure Chinese chili oil (without seeds/flakes) to add extra heat! Omit if you prefer a milder dish.
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Chili Garlic Chicken Fried Rice
1. Cook the chicken. Stir-fry the marinated chicken over high heat until 80% cooked. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside.
2. Sauté the pickled chilies sauce.
3. Stir-fry the onion, spring onion, and ginger. Only the white and light green parts of the spring onion at this point. Stir-fry until slightly softened.
4. Stir-fry garlic and chilies. Add the garlic, fresh and dried red chilies and stir-fry until fragrant.
5. Add the sliced cloud ear mushrooms and mung bean sprouts. Toss briefly to combine until the bean sprouts have slightly wilted.
6. Add the partially cooked chicken back into the wok. Stir-fry to combine.
7. Add the cooked rice and sauce. Stir-fry using a scooping motion until everything is combined well and coated in the sauce.
8. Toss through spring onion and white pepper. Toss briefly to combine, then switch off the heat.
Serve! Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with more chopped spring onion dark green parts. Serve immediately while hot and enjoy!
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Freeze the chicken for 20 minutes before slicing. The firmer the meat the easier it will be to slice into thin strips.
- Wet your knife when slicing the meat. This will help prevent the meat from sticking.
- Adjust spice level to taste. Omit the chili oil in stir-fry sauce and use less of the fresh and dried red chilies to make this fried rice milder. You can use less pickled chilies sauce too, but you may need to add more kosher salt to taste as it does add a salty umami flavor to the fried rice, not just heat.
- Use more of the pickled chilies from the jar and less of the sauce. The sauce part is quite salty so try to mostly use the chopped pickled chilies.
- Use a large wok or heavy bottomed frying pan. The key to making a non-mushy fried rice is using a large enough cooking vessel and cooking over medium-high or high heat. If the wok is too small, it will become overcrowded and cause the ingredients to become mushy. If the wok is not hot enough, it will cause the ingredients to become soggy.
Some types of fried rice can be frozen to enjoy at a later date. However, I don’t recommend freezing this fried rice as the bean sprouts and cloud ear mushrooms will not freeze well. Their textures will be altered once thawed and reheated.
Sambal oelek has a similar tangy and spicy flavor profile and would be the closest in flavor. You can adjust the quantity and use to taste if using sambal oelek for this chili garlic chicken fried rice.
Brown rice will have a slightly nuttier flavor and chewier texture than most types of white rice. However, it can absolutely be used to make fried rice. It will boost the nutritional content too since it has more fiber and nutrients than white rice.
- Use a different protein. Pork tenderloin (pork fillet) or beef skirt or flank steak are great options. You can also use shrimp/prawns if you’re a pescatarian or crispy pan-fried tofu cubes to make this vegetarian.
- Make it vegetarian. Omit the chicken and marinade ingredients and use pan-fried tofu cubes or tempeh. You could also use a shredded plant-based meat substitute and marinate and cook it in the same way you would the chicken.
- Make it gluten-free. Use a gluten-free low sodium light soy sauce, dry sherry in place of the Shao Xing rice wine, and distilled white vinegar in place of Chinkiang vinegar.
- Use sliced bamboo shoots, celtuce, or celery. Canned or fresh winter bamboo shoots or celtuce sliced into matchsticks can be swapped for the mung bean sprouts. Bamboo shoots are traditionally used in Sichuan “yu xiang” dishes. Finely sliced celery matchsticks can also be used instead.
- Add a scrambled egg. Simply because fried rice with scrambled egg tastes GOOD!
More Fried Rice Recipes You May Also Like
- Spicy Thai Basil Chicken Fried Rice
- Garlic Salmon Fried Rice
- Kimchi Fried Rice with Pork Belly
- Thai Roasted Chili Fried Rice with Prawns
- XO Sauce Fried Rice
- Spicy Thai Pork Fried Rice
- Or browse the entire Fried Rice recipe collection.
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Chili Garlic Chicken Fried Rice (Sichuan Yu Xiang Style)
Tender shredded chicken, plenty of garlic, chilies, mushrooms, bean sprouts and a DELICIOUS spicy-sweet & tangy sauce come together in this tantalizing Chili Garlic Chicken Fried Rice!
- Prep Time: 25
- Cook Time: 10
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stir-fry
- Cuisine: Sichuan
For the Chicken Marinade:
- 250 grams/ 0.55 pounds Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless (see note 1) – cleaned and pat-dried, cut into thin slivers
- 2 TSP Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
- ½ TBLS Shao Xing Rice Wine
- 1/8 TSP Kosher Salt
- ¼ TSP Sesame Oil
- 1 TSP Potato Starch (or Corn Starch)
For the Sauce:
- 2 TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
- 1.5 TBLS Shao Xing Rice Wine
- 1 TBLS Chinkiang Vinegar
- 1 TSP Dark Soy Sauce
- 2–3 TSP White Sugar, to taste
- 1 TSP Sesame Oil
- ½ – 1 TSP Pure Chili Oil (without flakes/seeds)
For the Chili Garlic Chicken Fried Rice:
- 10 grams / ¼ cup dried Cloud Ear Mushrooms (or wood ear mushrooms – see note 2) – soaked in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes, rinsed, drained, finely sliced
- 6 Garlic cloves – minced
- 1 TBLS minced Ginger
- 1 Spring Onion (Scallion/Green Onion) – finely chopped, white and light green parts separated from dark green parts
- ½ medium Yellow Onion – finely chopped
- 2 – 8 fresh Red Chilies (Bird’s Eye or any other small hot red chilies), to taste – finely chopped
- 1 cup Mung Bean Sprouts – rinsed and drained
- 2 – 6 Chinese Dried Chilies (optional – see note 3), to taste – destemmed and snipped into ½-inch pieces
- 3 TBLS Canola Oil (or any neutral flavored cooking oil)
- 3 cups cooked Long Grain Rice (such as Thai Jasmine rice – cold day-old rice works best)
- 3 TBLS Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies Sauce (or Sambal Oelek – see note 4)
- ¼ TSP ground White Pepper
- Soak and blanch the mushrooms: Soak the dried cloud ear (or wood ear) mushrooms in a bowl filled with warm water for 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Once tender and rehydrated, drain into a fine mesh strainer and rinse well. Slice into thin strips. Bring a pot of water to a boil add the sliced mushrooms. Boil for 1-2 minutes, then drain and run cold water over the mushrooms to halt the cooking process. Set aside.
- Marinate the chicken: Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips. Then slice the strips into thin slivers. Add to a medium bowl, followed by the low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, kosher salt, sesame oil and potato starch. Mix well to combine, then set aside for 15 minutes to marinate.
- Make the sauce: Mix together the low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, Chinkiang vinegar, dark soy sauce, white sugar, sesame oil, and pure chili oil in a measuring cup (or small bowl) until combined well.
- Prepare the fresh & dry ingredients: Chop the garlic, ginger, spring onion (separate the white and light green parts from the dark green parts), yellow onion, and fresh red chilies as indicated in the ‘ingredients’ section. Rinse and drain the mung bean sprouts. Remove the stems of the Chinese dried chilies (if using) and snip into ½-inch pieces. (Pro-tip: You can remove and discard the seeds of the fresh and dried chilies to make this fried rice milder.)
For the Chili Garlic Chicken Fried Rice:
- Cook the chicken: Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the marinated chicken slivers and stir-fry for 1 minute until 80% cooked. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer and place over a clean bowl.
- Stir-fry the aromatics: Add a little more oil to the wok if needed (there should be 3 tablespoons in the wok) and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the pickled chilies sauce and sauté for 20 seconds. Add the yellow onion, spring onion white and light green parts, ginger and stir-fry for 20-30 seconds or until slightly softened. Add the garlic, fresh red chilies, and dried red chilies and stir-fry to combine until fragrant – about 20-30 seconds.
- Cook the veggies: Add the sliced cloud ear mushrooms and mung bean sprouts. Toss briefly to combine until the bean sprouts have slightly wilted.
- Add the chicken: Add the partially cooked chicken and the juices in the bowl back into the wok and briefly stir-fry to combine.
- Add the rice and sauce: Add the cooked rice and pour the sauce on top. Stir-fry using a scooping motion until everything is combined and coated well in the sauce – about 1 minute.
- Toss through spring onion greens: Add the the spring onion dark green parts and sprinkle with ground white pepper. Toss briefly to combine, then switch off the heat.
- To Serve: Transfer to a serving plate or divide evenly into bowls. Garnish with more chopped spring onion dark green parts and serve immediately.
- Chicken. You can use boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs chicken thighs based on your preference. Note that breasts will be easier to finely slice than thighs due to their firmer texture.
- Dried Cloud Ear/Wood Ear Mushrooms. Chinese black fungus – wood ear mushrooms are traditionally used in “yu xiang” dishes. I used dried cloud ear mushrooms as they’re both similar in appearance, texture, and taste. You can use dried or fresh mushrooms. If using fresh mushrooms, you’ll only need to rinse and slice them before blanching. You’ll need ½ cup (about 60 grams) if using fresh cloud or wood ear mushrooms. Feel free to swap for dried or fresh shiitakes or other mushrooms of your choice.
- Dried Red Chilies. I used Chinese Xiao Mi La dried red chilies which are very hot. You can use any type of medium to hot Chinese dried red chilies or Thai dried red chilies. Use less if using Thai Bird’s Eye dried red chilies as they tend to be hotter than most Chinese dried red chilies. They are optional and can be omitted completely for a milder dish.
- Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies Sauce. Traditionally, pickled fresh er jing tiao chilies (pao la jiao – 泡辣椒) is used in “yu xiang” dishes in the Sichuan region. I find that Lao Gan Ma Pickled Red Chilies sauce is an excellent substitute. It has a similar and delicious hot and tangy flavor profile. Look for it an Asian or Chinese supermarket, or purchase it online. Substitute with sambal oelek or chopped Mexican or Thai pickled red chilies to yield a similar flavor.
- Adjust spice level to taste. Omit the chili oil in stir-fry sauce and use less of the fresh and dried red chilies to make this fried rice milder. You can use less pickled chilies sauce too, but you may need to add more kosher salt to taste as it adds salty and briny umami flavors to the fried rice, not just heat.
- Storage and leftovers. Store in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave for on high 1 to 2 minutes until hot throughout.
- See ‘Variations’ section in post if you’d like to customize this fried rice.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 433
- Sugar: 10.2g
- Sodium: 408mg
- Fat: 15.4g
- Saturated Fat: 1.6g
- Unsaturated Fat: 12.4g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 53.8g
- Fiber: 4.2g
- Protein: 21.6g
- Cholesterol: 45.6mg
Keywords: yu xiang fried rice, chili garlic chicken fried rice, chili garlic fried rice
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