That Spicy Chick

Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry

This Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry is quick and easy to make in under 30 minutes and exploding with BIG and BOLD Sichuan flavors! Tender chicken pieces, plenty of garlic, red bell pepper, Sichuan red peppercorns and chilies get stir-fried in a mouthwatering and fragrant sauce!

Friends, today I’m sharing a quick and easy spicy Sichuan chicken dish that you’re going to want to add to your repertoire.

This Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry is full of juicy and tender chicken pieces, plenty of garlic, fresh and dried red chilies, zingy and numbing Sichuan red peppercorns, the highly addictive Lao Gan Ma pickled chilies sauce and crisp red bell pepper. Everything gets tossed in a mouthwatering sauce with fragrant toasted sesame aromas!

This recipe was inspired by Fuchsia Dunlop’s Taibai Ji (Tai Bai Chicken) from The Food of Sichuan. I set out to make it one night, but my love for garlic (LOTS of it! 😍), and hatred of adding aromatics (such as spring onion white parts and dried chilies) to infuse dishes with flavor only to later remove and discard them got the better of me. 

Something very different than Taibai Ji, but an utterly drool-worthy and easy weeknight stir-fry was born!

I’ve added potato starch (corn starch can be used instead) to create a glossy sauce that coats everything beautifully. It’s abundant enough to be soaked up by and enjoyed with steamed rice!

As for veggies, red bell pepper adds a delicious crunchy texture and more color to this stir-fry. But any crisp, stir-fry friendly veggies like celery and bamboo shoots will work. 👌

Why This Recipe Works

  • Quick and easy! It’s ready in under 30 minutes and all you need is one wok (or skillet)!
  • Tender chicken pieces. Marinating the chicken with seasonings and potato starch creates a thin coating to keep the meat inside tender during stir-frying. The chicken is par-cooked first, then finishes cooking later in the stir-fry. The final result is succulent and flavorful chicken pieces.
  • Contrasting textures. The crunchy red bell pepper compliments the texture of the tender chicken pieces.
  • OUTSTANDING sauce! While the sauce is made with just a few simple ingredients, the flavors taste amazing when combined with the garlic, Sichuan peppercorns, and pickled chilies sauce.
  • Flexible quantity size. While this recipe as written serves 2, you can easily double all the ingredients to make 4 servings. 

Ingredient Notes and Substitutes

Labeled ingredients for Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry on a wooden board.
Fresh, Pantry, and Fridge Ingredients
  • Marinated Chicken: I used diced skinless chicken thigh fillets and marinated it with kosher salt, low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, sesame oil and potato starch. Although you can use boneless and skinless chicken breasts if you prefer, thigh meat is more tender and flavorful.
  • Dried Red Chilies: I’ve used Chinese Xiao Mi La dried chilies which are the hottest type of Chinese dried chilies. Feel free to use any type of medium or hot Chinese or Thai dried red chilies that are easily available to you. Thai dried chilies tend to be hotter than most Chinese ones. For this reason, it’s best to use less of them. For a milder dish, use less and shake out and discard some or all of the seeds. 
  • Garlic: Use three big fat cloves for the BEST garlicky flavor!
  • Fresh Bird’s Eye Red Chilies. You can use Thai Bird’s Eye or any other small hot red chilies that are easily available to you. Omit for a milder dish.
  • Sichuan Red Peppercorns: These fragrant peppercorns have a citrusy and numbing flavor. They aren’t incredibly spicy hot, but they do make your lips and tongue buzz and tingle a little. Discard the twigs and seeds and use only the husks – they carry the flavor and won’t add a gritty texture to the dish. Look for them in an Asian supermarket or order it online. If you’re based in Asia, you might find stalls in your local wet market selling small quantities in sealable zipper bags.
  • Peanut Oil: Or use any other neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point.
  • Lao Gan Ma Pickled Red Chilies Sauce: In traditional Sichuan dishes that call for pickled chilies, pickled fresh er jing tiao chilies (pao la jiao – 泡辣椒) is used. However, since it isn’t available easily outside of China, I use Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies sauce. This condiment has a highly addictive hot and tangy flavor profile! It’s delicious in Sichuan dishes like yu xiang chicken, gan shao xia (Sichuan dry-braised shrimp), and chicken in vinegar sauce (cu liu ji) to name just a few. Look for it an Asian or Chinese supermarket, or purchase a jar online. In a pinch, substitute with chopped Mexican or Thai pickled red chilies or sambal oelek to yield a similar flavor.
Labeled sauce ingredients for Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry.
Stir-fry Sauce Ingredients
  • Potato Starch: Just like corn starch, potato starch is used in Chinese cuisine in meat marinades, as a thickening agent in sauces and for deep-frying. Substitute with corn starch if you don’t have it on hand.
  • Kosher Salt: Use half the amount if using iodized table salt, which is saltier than kosher salt.
  • Ground White Pepper: Or use ground black pepper in a pinch.
  • White Sugar: Feel free to use less or more to taste. If using less of the spicy ingredients, you won’t need as much sugar to balance out the heat.
  • Shao Xing Rice Wine: This is a fragrant Chinese cooking wine with a floral aroma. Substitute with dry sherry if unavailable. 
  • Dark soy Sauce: A type of Chinese light soy sauce but it’s slightly thicker and darker than regular light soy sauce. It is used for color and a savory flavor here. Don’t mistake it for Thai sweet dark soy sauce, which is sweeter (as the name indicates) and has added sugar. If unavailable, use low sodium light soy sauce.
  • Water: Or if you prefer, use homemade or store-bought chicken stock for more flavor. You may need to adjust the quantity of kosher salt depending on how salty your stock is.

Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.

Closeup front view of Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry on a plate.

How to Make Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry

1. Cook the marinated chicken. In oil in a large wok over high heat. Cook until 80% cooked, then transfer to a clean bowl.

Cooking marinated chicken pieces in a wok.

2. Sauté the picked chilies. Set the heat to medium and sauté the pickled chilies sauce until shimmering.

3. Stir-fry the aromatics. Add the spring onion white and light green parts and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. 

4. Stir-fry the red bell pepper. Toss briefly to combine. 

5. Add the fresh and dried chilies and Sichuan red peppercorns. Stir-fry until the dried chilies have slightly darkened. Take care to not let them burn or they will become bitter.

Process steps to make Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry in a wok.

6. Add the chicken and sauce. Stir-fry until everything is combined well and the sauce thickens slightly.

7. Stir through spring onion greens and sesame oil: Stir through the spring onion dark green parts and remove the wok from the heat. Then stir in the sesame oil to give everything a final lick of toasted sesame aromas and flavor.

Added chicken and stir-fry sauce to wok and added spring onion greens.

Serve! Transfer to a serving plate or dish and serve immediately with warm steamed rice!

Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.

Plate with Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry and two bowls with steamed white rice.

Cook’s Tips

  • Double the recipe. To feed 4 people, simply double all the ingredients. (Click the ‘2x’ button in the recipe card to show double the ingredients amounts). Just make sure to use a large enough wok. If you don’t have a very large wok, cook in two batches.
  • Use a large wok or heavy bottomed deep edged pan. Although a large wok (cast iron or carbon steel) is ideal for Chinese stir-fries, a deep edged heavy bottom frying pan/skillet can be used if you don’t own one.
  • Strain the liquid from the Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies sauce. The liquid can be quite salty and tangy. A little liquid is fine, but too much may be overpowering in this dish. It should be strained out and discarded for this recipe.
  • Adjust spice level to taste. For a milder dish, use less or omit the fresh red chilies completely. Use less dried red chilies and shake out and discard the seeds. You can also leave them whole to get the fragrant aroma but without too much heat. For the pickled chilies sauce, I don’t recommend omitting or reducing the quantity as doing so will significantly alter the flavor of the dish.
Chopsticks holding up a piece of chicken above a plate with Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry.

FAQs

Are Sichuan peppercorns the same as red peppercorns?

No. Sichuan peppercorns are actually the berries of the prickly ash tree and not peppercorns. They have a fragrant citrusy flavor and make your tongue and lips tingle a little. Red peppercorns are most similar to black peppercorns. In fact, they are essentially peppercorns but in a different stage of ripening. When peppercorns are left to fully ripen, they turn red or pink. In terms of flavor, they are mildly spicy with a hint of sweetness and similar to black peppercorns.

Where to buy Xiao Mi La dried chilies?

In Asia, you sometimes can find them in small sealable zipper bags that are sold at stalls in wet markets. This is where I purchase mine. You could also order it online. The Mala Market stocks high quality Sichuan ingredients that they source from farmers and manufacturers in China. They have both Xiao Mi La dried chilies and Sichuan red peppercorns and ship within the US and to select international countries.

Can I substitute rice vinegar for Shao Xing wine?

Dry sherry is the best substitute for Shao Xing rice wine. Rice vinegar alone would make this dish too acidic. For a non-alcoholic substitute, use chicken or veggie stock and add a small pinch of brown sugar and a little rice vinegar to yield a similar savory-sweet flavor profile. Mirin (a sweet Japanese cooking wine) can also be substituted, but omit the white sugar in the recipe if using it.

Chopsticks holding up a chicken piece and closeup of plate with chicken stir-fry. Text overlay "Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry" and "thatspicychick.com".

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Print

Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry

Closeup of Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry on a plate.

Tender chicken pieces, plenty of garlic, red bell pepper, Sichuan red peppercorns and chilies come together in a mouthwatering and fragrant sauce in this quick and easy Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Sichuan

Ingredients

Scale

For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 200 grams / 7 ounces Chicken Thigh Fillets, skinless – excess fat trimmed, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/8 TSP Kosher Salt (use half the amount if using iodized table salt)
  • ½ TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 TSP Shao Xing Rice Wine (substitute dry sherry if unavailable)
  • ¼ TSP Sesame Oil
  • ¾ TSP Potato Starch (or Corn Starch)

For the Sauce:

  • ½ TSP Potato Starch
  • ¾ TSP Kosher Salt
  • ¼ TSP ground White Pepper
  • 1.5 TSP White Sugar, to taste (note 1)
  • ½ TBLS Shao Xing Rice Wine
  • ½ TSP Dark soy Sauce
  • 79ml / ⅓ cup Water

For the Stir-fry:

  • 210 Dried Red Chilies, to taste (note 2) – snipped into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 Spring Onion (Scallion/Green Onion) -finely chopped, white and light green parts separated from dark green parts
  • ½ medium Red Bell Pepper (note 3) – deseeded, diced
  • 3 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 13 fresh Red Chilies (Thai Bird’s Eye or any other small hot red chilies – note 4) – finely chopped
  • ½ TSP Sichuan Red Peppercorns – only husks, twigs and seeds removed and discarded (note 5)
  • 2 TBLS Peanut Oil (or other neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point)
  • 1.5 TBLS Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies Sauce (note 6) – strained
  • ½ TSP Sesame Oil

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Marinate the chicken: Trim the excess fat from the chicken thighs and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add to a medium-sized bowl, followed by the kosher salt, low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, sesame oil and potato starch. Mix to coat and set aside for 15 minutes to marinate.
  2. Make the sauce: Whisk together the potato starch, kosher salt, ground white pepper, white sugar, Shao Xing rice wine, dark soy sauce and water in a small measuring cup or bowl until throughly combined.
  3. Prepare the dry and fresh ingredients: Prepare the dried red chilies, spring onion, garlic, red chilies and Sichuan red peppercorns as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section.

For the Sichuan Garlic Chicken Stir-fry:

  1. Cook the chicken: Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large wok (or heavy bottomed deep edged skillet) over high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and immediately spread out the pieces in the wok. Allow to sear for 20-30 seconds, then stir-fry for 30 seconds or until the chicken is 80% cooked. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a fine mesh strainer held above the wok, letting the oil drip back in. Tip the chicken into a clean bowl and set aside.
  2. Sauté the picked chilies sauce: Heat the oil in the wok over medium heat. Add the pickled chilies sauce and sauté for 15-20 seconds.
  3. Stir-fry the aromatics: Add the spring onion white and light green parts and garlic. Stir-fry for 20 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Add the bell pepper: Add the red bell pepper and toss for 30 seconds to combine.
  5. Add the chilies and peppercorns: Add the dried and fresh red chilies and the Sichuan red peppercorns. Stir-fry until the dried chilies have slightly darkened, taking care to not let them or the peppercorns burn – about 20 seconds.
  6. Add the chicken and sauce: Give the sauce a quick stir with a spoon to loosen up the starch at the bottom. Then add the chicken into the wok and pour the sauce over everything. Turn the heat up and stir-fry for 1 minute, until the sauce thickens slightly and coats everything well.
  7. Stir through spring onion greens and sesame oil: Stir through most of the spring onion dark green parts (reserve a few pieces for garnish) and remove the wok from the heat. Stir in the sesame oil.
  8. To Serve: Transfer to a serving plate/dish and garnish with the reserved spring onion dark green parts. Serve immediately with warm steamed rice.

Notes

  1. White Sugar. Feel free to use more or less to taste. If using less dried chilies or fresh red chilies, you may not need as much sugar to balance out the heat.
  2. Dried Red Chilies. I’ve used Chinese Xiao Mi La dried red chilies which are fiery hot. You can use any type of Chinese or Thai dried red chilies that are easily available to you. If using Thai dried red chilies, use less as they tend to be hotter than most Chinese dried red chilies. Shake out some or all of the seeds after snipping the dried chilies to make this dish milder. You can also leave the dried chilies whole to get the fragrant aroma but without too much heat.
  3. Red Bell Pepper. This adds a delicious crunchy texture and more color to this stir-fry. But any crisp, stir-fry friendly veggies like celery and bamboo shoots will work. You’ll need ½-¾ cup diced celery or ½ cup thinly sliced bamboo shoots.
  4. Fresh Red Chilies. For a milder dish, omit or use less and deseed if desired.
  5. Sichuan Red Peppercorns. These fragrant peppercorns have a citrusy and numbing flavor. They aren’t incredibly spicy hot, but they do make your lips and tongue buzz and tingle a little. Discard the twigs and seeds and use only the husks – they carry the flavor and won’t add a gritty texture to the dish. Look for them in an Asian supermarket or order it online. If you’re based in Asia, you might find stalls in your local wet market selling small quantities in sealable zipper bags.
  6. Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies Sauce. In traditional Sichuan dishes that call for pickled chilies, pickled fresh er jing tiao chilies (pao la jiao – 泡辣椒) is used. However, since it isn’t available easily outside of China, I use Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies sauce. This condiment has a highly addictive hot and tangy flavor profile! Look for it an Asian or Chinese supermarket, or purchase a jar it online. In a pinch, substitute with chopped Mexican or Thai pickled red chilies or sambal oelek to yield a similar flavor. I don’t recommend omitting or reducing the quantity of this as doing so will significantly alter the flavor of the dish.
  7. Double the recipe. This recipe as written makes enough for 2 servings. To make four servings, click the ‘2x’ button at the top of the recipe card to show double the ingredients amounts. Just make sure to use a large enough wok. If you don’t have a very large wok, stir-fry in two batches.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 347
  • Sugar: 1.5
  • Sodium: 798.6mg
  • Fat: 20.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.7g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 14.7g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 20.3g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 23g
  • Cholesterol: 94mg

Keywords: sichuan garlic chicken, szechuan chicken stir fry, spicy sichuan chicken

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