Ingredient Notes, Cook’s Tips, and FAQs
- Sichuan Red Peppercorns (花椒 – huājiāo): These give the dish it’s addictive spicy numbing flavor. It’s also known as prickly ash. It is available in Chinese or Asian supermarkets, or you can order it online. Use good quality Sichuan red peppercorns. The fresher they are, the better flavor they will infuse the dish with. If you are not a fan of the numbing spicy flavor that they have, you can use more freshly cracked black pepper and make this a black pepper chicken stir-fry instead.
- Chinese ingredients for the sauce: Shao Xing rice wine, dark soy sauce, and chinkiang vinegar can all be found at Asian or Chinese supermarkets or online. You can substitute dry sherry for the Shao Xing rice wine, low sodium light soy sauce for the dark soy sauce, and half balsamic vinegar and half white vinegar for chinkiang vinegar if needed.
- Chilies: Use as many or as few as you like based on your heat level preference. Or deseed them to make the dish milder, or omit them completely.
- Veggies: Feel free to sub in or add any stir-fry friendly veggies you like. Diced celery, snap peas, carrots, broccoli, etc. would all taste great.
- Cut the bell pepper and onion approximately the same size as the chicken. This promotes even cooking.
- Can I make this gluten-free? Use a gluten free oyster sauce, soy sauces, and dry sherry instead of the Shao Xing rice wine. For the chinkiang vinegar, substitute with 1 TSP balsamic vinegar and 1 TSP rice vinegar (or white vinegar).
- Can I use a different protein? Sliced pork tenderloin or loin, or beef flank or skirt steak would work well. You could also make this with some crispy pan-fried tofu cubes if you want to make it vegetarian/vegan.
- To make it vegetarian/vegan: Use pan-fried tofu cubes for the protein. Cut a large block of firm or extra firm tofu (350-400 grams) into cubes. Then season with salt and pepper. Pan-fry in a bit of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp and golden on all sides. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Follow the rest of the instructions for the recipe, and add the crispy tofu cubes into the wok when you would add the cooked chicken back in.