300g boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ thumb ginger, peeled and julienned
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
1-2 large handful dried red chillies
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cornflour
½ tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine
½ teaspoon sugar
100ml chicken stock
3 tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoons sea salt
TO MAKE SALTED CARAMEL CASHEWS
Tip your cashews into a frying pan, along with the palm sugar. Heat on a medium heat until the palm sugar is fully melted. Once melted, stir well and switch off the frying pan. Place on greaseproof paper and allow to cool. Once cool, sprinkle the sea salt over the top and gently crush / separate the cashews.
THE CHILLI CHICKEN
Begin by slicing chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces, placing them into a prep bowl. In a separate dish mix together your marinade, adding the cornflour in last, then pour over the chicken and mix with hands to combine and massage into the meat. Leave for 1 hour in the fridge or overnight for best results.
Mix ‘The Sauce’ ingredients together ready to wok later.
Once chicken has been well marinated, in a wok over a high heat, deep fry at 180°C for 1-2 minutes for an immediate seal around each piece of chicken. This should seal the chicken and half cook it at the very least. Once half cooked, pour the chicken and oil through a sieve over a metal / glass mixing bowl.
Return the wok to a medium heat, before adding in the ginger, garlic and Sichuan peppercorns, allowing them to toast for 10-20 seconds or until fragrant.
Return your heat to high, add the dried chillies and stir-fry for 30 seconds. It’s advisable to open a window before doing this so as not to choke on the chilli fumes! Next add back in your chicken, along with ‘The Sauce’ and then the spring onion, mixing to combine for a further minute or so. Bringing the stock to a vigorous boil, reduce slightly for 30 seconds to 1 minute before removing from heat and spooning into a deep sized serving dish.
Lastly, generously sprinkle the cashews over the chicken and chillies. Serve the dish alongside steamed jasmine rice or with some lettuce wraps and hoisin sauce for a lighter finish.
THE MAGICAL LETTUCE WRAP TRICK
1 x iceberg lettuce
Hoisin sauce (for drizzling) on the side
Remove the stalk of the lettuce by chopping off the bottom third, being careful not to tear any leaves. Turn the trimmed lettuce upside down, place it in the centre of a mixing bowl and pour over hot water very briefly before submerging it in ice-cold water for at least a minute. (This process will help you separate the leaves from each other without much effort.) Separate and drain the individual leaves, trimming them for presentation if needed, and place in the fridge to cool.