I love chicken as much as the next person. I do. Really, I do. Sometimes, though, I get so darn bored with chicken and the five or six things that I do to it, that I feel the need to shake it up. That’s where a trip to China comes in.
On one such bored-chicken night, long ago, my fiend Tom—an amazing cook and world traveler—provided me with a life-changing palate extravaganza. He called it Bang Bang chicken, because the four flavors explode in your mouth when you eat it. This was just what I had been looking for.
Over the years, I realized that I don’t have to slavishly cook Bang Bang in the traditional Chinese way, which involves boiling a whole chicken—bones and all—hacked up for 20 minutes. Rather, I could just make the Bang Bang sauce and put it on any chicken I desired. I tend to make the sauce when I have leftover roasted chicken (or turkey) and I can’t stand the thought of one more chicken sandwich. That said, the traditional dish is a great exotic addition for cocktail parties or as a potluck dish. Beware, it goes fast.
Bang Bang Chicken Sauce
- 3 Tablespoons peanut butter (or Chinese sesame paste also called salad dressing)
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar)
- 1 Tablespoon Asian sesame seed oil
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons hot chili oil (or 1-2 teaspoons chili flakes)
To be used with:
- Leftover chicken (or cooked as you please)
- 1 large cucumber
- 3-5 scallions, shredded
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame seed oil, sugar and chili. That’s it. That’s the sauce.
- Peel the cucumber (and de-seed if really watery) and cut into 1 ½ inch strips. Arrange on the serving plate.
- Place the chicken, which you need to shred into bite-sized boneless pieces, on top of cucumber strips.
- Top with sauce and finish with shredded scallions.
I had already eaten a hearty portion by the time I realized that I forgot this step! That’s why the photograph looks naked. Don’t forget this step it looks better and tastes great. This dish tastes great at any temperature—hot, cold or room. For a fun multicultural dish, you could also make Bang Bang burritos. Makes great leftovers, but I wouldn’t count on any.