A new look at an Asian classic Szechuan sauce

By Jim Bailey

There are so many variations of Szechuan sauces that it is now impossible to say which is the original or classic.

Some authentic restaurants tout a very spicy, thin sauce as authentic while others proclaim the sweeter, much less spicy, rendition as classic. Some even use it as a base for many other Asian recipes, such as Szechuan chicken, beef and broccoli and General Tso’s chicken.

So here is my, soon to be on the market, recipe that encompasses heat and sweet. Use this sauce not only for poaching chicken, but as a stir fry sauce or even thicken it with a touch of cornstarch slurry for glazing ribs, chicken, fish or even a burger or two.

1 onion
1 each large green and yellow (or red) bell pepper
1 (2lb) chicken
1 cup soy sauce
6 cups apple juice
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon each chili powder, ground ginger, Chinese 5-spice powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons oil
Cracked black pepper, optional

Place the chicken in a large marinating bag or a large enough pot to hold chicken with room for marinating.

Whisk remainder of ingredients together well and pour over chicken. Let soak for at least 4 hours, turning chicken a few times to evenly marinate.

When ready to cook, place chicken with liquid in a large pot, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for at least 45 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked, turning chicken frequently to evenly cook through.

Meanwhile, when there is about 15 minutes remaining, peel and halve onion. Slice, with cut-side down, into thin slices. Halve and seed both bell peppers. Julienne the same way.

Add oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add peppers and onions, stirring to combine.

Cook, while continuing to stir frequently, until crisp tender, Set aside.

Remove chicken from pot to cool slightly before removing legs, quarters or breasts and sprinkle with cracked pepper to serve with cooked vegetables.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at theyankeechef@aol.com.

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