There’s nothing better for dinner than a fast and easy Chicken Stir Fry. A 15-minute recipe starring tongue-numbing Sichuan (Szechuan) Peppercorns is especially exhilarating and delicious! Easy, fast, and exciting — spice up your weeknight meals with Sichuan Spicy Chicken Stir Fry.
Why Sichuan Spicy Chicken Stir Fry?
A versatile chicken stir fry is a weeknight dinnertime staple. And this version, starring tingly, floral, heady Sichuan peppers is especially exciting and delicious!
Crispy bites of tender chicken. Charred, sweet leeks. All that smoky flavor from the wok. And that tongue-numbing, buzzing sensation from sichuan peppers.
An easy, dry-cook, crispy and crunchy stir fry. That’s on the table in 15 minutes!
The scorching heat of the wok seals in the chicken juices and produces a smoky, charred flavor. Tastes so good with rice!
Besides salt, only 5 ingredients!
- Sichuan Peppercorns. The dried berries of the Prickly Ash tree that open or “flower” during the drying process. A common ingredient in Chinese cuisine (most notably, dishes from the Sichuan province) you’ll find them in everything including Mapo Tofu, Dan Dan Noodles, Chinese Chili Oil, Mala Chicken, and Szechuan beef. Also labeled Sichuan Peppers, Prickly Ash, or Szechwan pepper. They can be found in the spice aisle of most Asian Grocery stores.
- Black Peppercorns. Smoky depth and flavor.
- Corn starch. Tenderizes the chicken and crisps up the edges when cooked over high heat.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken thighs. Flavorful and fast-cooking, chicken thighs stay tender and juicy.
- Leeks. When cooked, they become sweet and tender with crispy caramelized edges. The perfect complement to all that heady, tongue-numbing spice.
- Crush peppercorns.
- Cut chicken thighs into bite-sized cubes. Add bashed peppercorns, corn starch, and salt.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Cook chicken in wok.
- Add leeks.
- Serve with rice and vegetable of choice. Enjoy!
As with any stir fry, enjoy with rice. White rice, brown rice, or even Korean Purple Rice are nice additions.
For a side dish, add your favorite steamed vegetable of choice: broccoli, snap peas, cabbage.
Or, try Sichuan chicken with lettuce wraps. Cooling lettuce and sliced cucumbers will combat the tongue-numbing heat. An exciting, swoon-worthy summer dinner!
To make it a one-pan meal, add vegetables in the last 3 minutes of the cooking process. Some suggestions:
- Broccoli. Lightly steamed broccoli – a classic!
- Celery and Peanuts. A classic Chinese combination that adds a lot of texture and crunch.
- Sugar Snap Peas. Crisp and sweet, they cook up fast.
- Keep some texture in the peppercorns. Don’t crush until they are fine powder! Some textured, nubby bits of peppercorn are so good and crunchy!
- Clean leeks well. Leeks contain many layers that are prone to holding onto dirt. Chop leeks then cover with water in a large bowl, swirling with your fingers so the dirt loosens and falls to the bottom of the bowl. Drain and repeat, filling with clean water. When there’s no more sandy dirt remaining in the bottom of the bowl, they are clean.
- Preheat wok. The wok should be hot enough so the chicken sizzles on contact. When the wok starts smoking slightly, add oil and swirl around in the pan. Immediately add the chicken and hear it sizzle!
- Leave chicken undisturbed for the first 1-2 minutes. Crucial to developing that smoky char. Make sure to spread out in an even layer so that it’s not in one big clump.
- Prep everything ahead of time. The total cook time is fast — about 5-6 minutes total. Prep everything in advance so you can just toss and mix.
- Wok. For that smoky, charred flavor, a wok is essential. A stainless steel, carbon steel, or cast iron wok all work. If you don’t own one, I recommend a stainless steel skillet with a large cooking surface. A cast iron skillet could also work.
- Large fish spatula. When cooking, a large fish spatula makes it easier to toss everything around.
- Mortar and Pestle. To crush the peppercorns. If you don’t have one, place in a plastic baggie and bash with a rolling pin. Or, use an electric spice grinder.
Can I make this less spicy?
Absolutely! The original recipe calls for 2 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns + 1 Tbsp black peppercorns and is VERY spicy. Simply lessen the amount of peppercorns.
For medium spice, add 1 Tbsp Sichuan Peppercorns + 1/2 Tbsp Black Peppercorns.
For low spice, add 1 tsp Sichuan Peppercorns + 1 tsp black peppercorns.
Can I swap out the leeks?
If you don’t have access to leeks — yes, they can be swapped out. I recommend 1 medium onion (preferably sweet onion, if you can), cut into medium chunks to mimic that sweet, onion flavor.
What makes Sichuan Peppercorns so addicting?
Sichuan peppercorns are well known for their tongue-numbing, spicy quality. Loaded with hydroxy-alpha-sanshool, these tiny red and green berries will leave your mouth pleasantly buzzing and tingling.
What makes Sichuan peppers so addictive is the way the brain registers their heat as pain, sending a flood of endorphins and dopamine to combat the pain. As these feel-good neurotransmitters are released, you’ll feel a rush of pleasure.
More easy chicken recipes :
- Cheese Buldak (Korean Fire Chicken)
- Chicken Bulgogi (Dak Bulgogi)
- Easy Gochujang Chicken Thighs
- One Pan Chicken Pizza with Mozarella
- Hawaiian Mochiko Chicken
- Korean-style Rotisserie Chicken Salad
Sichuan Spicy Chicken Stir Fry
- Long metal spatula
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6 thighs, depending on size)
- 2 Tbsp (whole) sichuan peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp (whole) black peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 leek
- Clean leeks. Cut leek in half, length wise. Then chop into 1-inch half moons. Add to large bowl and cover with cold water. Swirl leeks with your fingers, separating the layers. The dirt will loosens and fall to the bottom of the bowl while the leeks remain floating. Transfer leeks into a colander then dump the dirty water. Repeat until there's no more dirt remaining in the bottom of the bowl.
- Crush peppercorns. Using a mortar and pestle, plastic baggie and rolling pin, or electric spice grinder. Crush black peppercorns first, as they are harder and need a heavier hand. Then, empty the bowl and crush the Sichuan peppercorns next. The texture should be somewhat coarse and not too finely ground.
- Cube chicken. Chop chicken thighs into bite-sized cubes, about 1 1/2 inches long and place in a large bowl. Add crushed peppercorns, corn starch, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
- Heat wok on high heat. When the wok starts to smoke slightly, add 1 Tbsp neutral oil and swirl around. Add chicken and spread out in an even layer. Leave the chicken undisturbed for 1-2 minutes, to let a char develop. Then scrape down the sides, shake the wok, and toss chicken pieces around with metal spatula (fish spatula) from time to time. The goal is to get nicely charred pieces of chicken with crispy edges. The total cooking time should be 4-5 minutes total.
- When the chicken is 90% cooked, add leeks. Mix with metal spatula until the leeks are soft with slightly browned edges, about 2 minutes more.
- Serve immediately with rice and vegetable of choice. Enjoy!