The mind melting, tongue numbing, fiercely spicy, weeknight stir fry that you need in your life. Tender bites of chicken. Tingly Sichuan pepper. Sweet, soft leeks. The tastiest (and spiciest!) 15-minute meal.
When I lived in NYC, there was a Sichuan restaurant in Chinatown that I loved. Every dish left my mouth burning. I ate copious bowls of rice to combat the spiciness. My water glass needed constant refilling. And the wreckage of napkins used to wipe my snot-dripping nose was appalling.
But I didn’t care. Not in the least bit. I couldn’t get enough. I fell hard for the tingly, numbing effect of Sichuan peppercorns.
Like the good foodie I am, I started cooking with Sichuan peppercorns at home.
The effect was always the same: tongue-numbing, swoon-worthy, wickedly spicy, fragrantly heady flavor. Just a small sprinkle left my mouth buzzing with that characteristic tingle that made everything taste better.
That’s how Spicy Sichuan Chicken Stir Fry came to be. I wanted a dish to celebrate the full, tingly buzz of my beloved. Something fast and easy. With pantry ingredients. No extra steps, no additional fuss.
Spicy Sichuan Chicken Stir Fry is not a traditional dish. A little Korean, a little Chinese — this is the kind of hodge podge dish that gets thrown into a wok and tastes so good with rice!
Make this dish once and it will forever answer the dinnertime conundrum: what’s fast, exciting, spicy, and delicious?
You need this in your weeknight dinner rotation right now!
How to Make Spicy Sichuan Chicken Stir Fry:
Crush black peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. (Or, you can add them to a plastic baggie and bash them with a rolling bin.)
Cut chicken thighs into bite-sized cubes. Add bashed peppercorns, corn starch, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
Heat wok on high heat. When the wok starts to smoke, add 1 Tbsp neutral oil and swirl around. Add chicken and sizzle away.
When the chicken is almost fully cooked, add leeks. Mix around until the leeks are soft with slightly browned edges.
Serve immediately with rice and vegetable of choice. Enjoy!
(FYI: Sichuan Peppercorns are also known as Prickly Ash or Szechwan pepper. They are found in the spice aisle of most Asian Grocery stores.)
Spicy Sichuan Chicken Stir Fry
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4-6 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, cleaned, halved, and sliced into 1-inch (half) rings
- Crush black peppercorns and sichuan peppercorns with mortar and pestle. (Crush black peppercorns first, as they are harder and need a heavier hand. Then, empty the bowl and crush the Sichuan peppercorns next.) Or, put them in a plastic baggie and bash them with a rolling pin. The texture should be somewhat coarse and not too finely ground.
- Cut chicken thighs into bite-sized cubes, about 1 1/2 inches long. Add crushed peppercorns, corn starch, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
- Heat wok on high heat. When the wok starts to smoke, add 1 Tbsp neutral oil and swirl around. Add chicken and sizzle until almost fully cooked (but not quite), about 4-5 minutes. Feel free to scrape down the sides, shake the wok, and toss chicken pieces around with a metal spatula from time to time. The goal is to get nicely charred pieces of chicken with crispy edges.
- When the chicken is almost done, add leeks. Mix with metal spatula until the leeks are soft with slightly browned edges, about 2 minutes.
- Serve immediately with rice and vegetable of choice. Enjoy!