Sichuan Stir-Fried Chicken in Garlic Sauce

Chicken take out

Finally – great Chinese food at home!

My love for gravy and sauces extends to both Indian and Chinese food, and this recipe has one of those great sauces that comes together quickly and easily. The only odd ingredient is black vinegar, which can be hard to find. I have tried the substitute offered and did not really notice a difference, so don’t canvass your city just to find the black vinegar.

As for the main ingredients, you can add pretty much anything you like. While I like the simplicity of just having mushrooms and celery, I usually add broccoli to the recipe to veggie it up a bit. I also drop a lot more scallions on top at the end for more flavor. For the protein, the original recipe calls for country-style pork ribs which are good, but I prefer and usually use chicken. The cornstarch and rice wine gives the chicken a velvety texture with a tender bite. This is a really nice technique to make sure you don’t overcook the meat.

This recipe is quickly becoming a family favorite in our house.  It’s also a great recipe for leftovers! I often double the sauce recipe to have more to mix with the rice the next day. And yes, I always store the sauce and rice separately to make sure the rice doesn’t absorb any of the liquid. Mixing the two is a big pet peeve of mine.



1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

4 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or substitute 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar)

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

2 teaspoons ketchup

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons cornstarch


12-oz chicken breast (or boneless country-style pork ribs , trimmed)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup cold water

2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

2 teaspoons cornstarch


4 garlic cloves

2 scallions

2 tablespoons Asian broad-bean chili paste (I usually substitute 2 tablespoons of Asian chili-garlic paste)

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

6-oz shiitake mushrooms

2 celery ribs


      1. Add all sauce ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk together, then set aside.
      1. Slice chicken into 2″-lengths and cut into 1/4″-thick by 2″ strips. Put in second medium bowl and add baking soda and water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
      1. Meanwhile, begin to cook your rice. Also remove the mushroom stems and slice them thinly. Cut the celery on a 45-degree bias into 1/4″ slices.
      2. Rinse chicken in cold water and use paper towels to dry. You are just trying to remove the water, not drying them so that they caramelize in the pan.
      1. Whisk rice wine and cornstarch in the chicken’s bowl. Return chicken to bowl and toss to cover evenly.
      1. Slice scallions and separate into two piles of greens and whites, then mince the whites. Add the white part of the scallions to a small bowl (third bowl), press garlic cloves directly into bowl and add chili paste. Stir to combine.
      2. Place a 12″ non-stick skillet over high burner. Add 1 tablespoon oil and pre-heat until the oil begins to smoke. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes until they become tender; stir often.
      3. Add celery and continue cooking for 3 to 4 more minutes. Set vegetables aside into a fourth bowl.
      4. Return skillet over burner, reduce to medium-low. Add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, and allow to pre-heat for 30 second. Add the garlic/scallion/chili-paste mixture to skillet and sauté for just 30 seconds.
      5. Remove 1 tablespoon garlic/scallion/chili-paste mixture to a small bowl (same bowl that contained the mixture before sautéing) and set aside.
      1. Increase burner to medium, and add chicken to skillet and sauté for 5 minutes. Cook until it is no longer pink, but remember that it will continue to cook in Step 12.
      1. Give the sauce mixture from Step 1 a whisk to recombine the ingredients, then add to the chicken already in the skillet. Increase burner to high and sauté for 2 more minutes. Mix the vegetables back into the skillet and allow everything to re-heat.
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      1. Place on individuals plates or a large serving platter. Evenly spread the sliced scallion greens and the garlic/scallion/chili oil. Serve with white rice.

This recipe comes from the always reliable America’s Test Kitchen.

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