"Bang" "Bang"

If a wine “travels well” it means that it reaches its destination with its original quality intact. The same cannot always be said for recipes, which are adapted to suit local tastes and available ingredients. Bang Bang Chicken has been botched pretty badly over time by different chefs trying to replicate the original dish, but this recipe is my effort to revive the original. I hope you like it? Bang Bang Chicken is a dish of shredded chicken, julienned cucumber, and a spicy sauce. Don’t mistake this for the countless Americanized versions you might see online, which is basically fried chicken topped with mayonnaise. That version may be tasty, but it’s definitely not Bang Bang Chicken.
This spicy dish of poached chicken in a nutty, sweet, sour, hot chilli sauce has travelled all the way from northern China to become an all time restaurant favourite. No wonder,here is a dish that if made properly,would fit very well on any restaurant menu.I remember well the  racy version they served up at The Ivy, for instance, it called for for shredded, smoked chicken with a warm sauce of peanut butter, sweet chilli sauce, sesame oil and vegetable oil.However you can not improve on the original and I thought I better consult the oracle of Chinese cooking, Fuschia Dunlop´s book  The Food of Sichuan.
Bang bang chicken appears on countless Chinese restaurant menus in the west, but usually only as a shadow of its authentic self. In southern Sichuan, where the dish originates, the base seasoning of sesame paste is jazzed up with sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, chilli and sesame oils and Sichuan pepper to make a lip-tingling sauce. The dish is said to have originated in Hanyang Ba, a town near Leshan that was once known for its chickens: free-range birds that fed on insects, stray grains and leftovers from the local peanut crop. In the early 20th century, Hanyang street vendors sold chunks of cooked chicken meat draped in spicy sauce as a snack.
The dish became known as bang bang chicken, because of the sound their wooden cudgels made when hammered down on the backs of cleaver blades to help them through the meat. It began to feature on Chengdu menus from about the 1920s, though here the cudgels were used to whack the meat directly, loosening the fibres so it could be torn into slivers by hand.
I have found this recipe one of the most difficult to commit to paper, because I have enjoyed so many different versions of it. If you like, you can serve the chicken on a bed of slivered lettuce or as I have done with an improvised smashed cucumber salad.Without detracting from the dish I jazzed it up  by serving a crunchy fried vegetable crumb as a topping.For me it was that extra element that made it sparkle.
Bang Bang Chicken
400g cold poached chicken meat,off the bone (see below)
4 spring onions, white parts only, cut into fine slivers (optional)
30g roasted peanuts 
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 - 2 Medium Size Cucumber, shredded (optional)

For the sauce 
2 tbsp sesame paste
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1½ tsp Rice vinegar
¼-½ tsp Ground Timut pepper or Sichuan
4 tbsp chilli oil , plus 1-2 tbsp sediment
4 tbsp sesame oil 2 tsp
For the poached chicken 
1 whole chicken, to give 800g boneless meat
20g ginger
2 spring onions, white parts only
To make the poached chicken, let the chicken come to room temperature before you start. Lightly smack the ginger and spring onion whites with the flat of a cleaver blade or rolling pin to loosen them.
Pour enough water to immerse your chicken into a lidded pan that will hold the bird snugly, and bring to the boil over a high flame. Lower the chicken into the water, return it quickly to the boil and then skim. Add the ginger and spring onion whites, half-cover the pan and turn the heat down so the liquid barely murmurs and poach for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken; if any of the bird sits above the water level, turn it halfway through.
Pierce the thigh joint deeply with a skewer to see if it is done: the juices should run clear, not pink and bloody. When the chicken is just cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside to cool before chilling until needed (to arrest the cooking quickly and keep the skin taut, immediately immerse the bird in a large pan or bowl of ice water). The flesh should be moist and silky.
For the bang bang chicken, if you want to be traditional, pummel the meat with a rolling pin to loosen the fibres, and then tear into bite-sized slivers; otherwise, simply tear or cut into bite-sized slivers or strips.
Toss with the spring onion slivers, if using. Roughly chop the peanuts: the easiest way to do this is to gather them on a chopping board, lay the flat of a cleaver blade over them and press firmly to break them up a bit, then chop them into smaller pieces. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry wok or frying pan over a very gentle heat, until fragrant and tinged with gold.
Next make the sauce. Dilute the sesame paste with a little oil from the jar and about 2 tbsp of cold water: you should end up with a paste the consistency of single cream – it needs to be runny≈enough to clothe the chicken. Place the salt, sugar, soy sauce and vinegar in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and mix well.
Shortly before serving, pile the chicken on to a serving dish and pour the sauce over it. Garnish with the peanuts and toasted sesame seeds.

For the crispy fried vegetable crumbs

Grate raw beetroot, carrot, celeriac and red onion, toss in flour, add spoonful of water to make a batter,deep deep fry till crisp.Allow to cool to the touch then crumble into large crumbs


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