Bang Bang Chicken Salad 棒棒雞絲
By Ellen L. Published: 2016-04-23
Bang! Bang, bang! Want to get back at all those annoying things that happen all in a day's work that you can't do anything about like...being stuck in traffic because you stupidly decided to get a taxi instead of using public transport or...waiting in line forever as the person in front "chats' with the cashier or...your boss giving you a hard time for something that's his fault or...hey, I could go on forever. Well how about taking out your frustrations on a tender juicy piece of chicken breast, before ripping it to tiny little pieces? But then you feel a wee bit mean and so you have to make amends by dressing that shredded chicken with a drizzle of spicy numbing sesame soy dressing, then nestling it tenderly on a cool crunchy bed of cucumber strips and translucent mung bean noodles? Yummmm...amiright? And don't you feel better already? I know I do. Make this cool and yummilicious Bang Bang Chicken 棒棒雞絲 for your dinner tonight and see if you don't get a right 'bang' out of it!
I used chicken from a whole chicken that my 老公's 媽媽 brought back from Guangzhou. That's all of 174 km or 108 miles. You're probably thinking - who brings whole cooked poultry that distance and across a controlled border on a regular basis? Well, that would have to be the Chinese. Haven't you ever seen the movie 'An Autumn's Tale' starring Chow Yun Fat, Cherie Chung and Danny Chan? And that amazing, amazing moment where Cherie is on the plane to New York to start a brave new life except she feels desperately homesick already...so...what does she whip out and gobble up? A whole highflying takeout box of roasted goose 飛天燒鵝 complete with the requisite finger lickin plum sauce of course. Yumms up!
Of course, if you don't have a whole chicken gifted from a Chinese person, you can just do it the regular way. Simmer your chicken breast in a good bit of chicken broth over low heat with cover on, turning occasionally, until it's soft enough to shred with a fork. Anyway you like just cook your chicken, bang it to tenderize it and then shred. Simple and soul soothing.
For the starchy base of this salad, you will need some mung bean sheets 綠豆粉皮 or just 粉皮, also known as green bean starch sheets. These dried sheets are made simply from the starch of that wonderful green mung bean 綠豆 and are available at all asian groceries. Super easy to prepare, just soak in water a few minutes until pliable. And super gorgeous to look at, for all the world like translucent sheets of glass...that you can eat!
A tip for how to make cucumber matchsticks in a fast easy way. Get your handy vegetable peeler, the kind that looks like the one in the photo abov, not the traditional pen like one. Peel strips of cucumber with your peeler, then chop into matchsticks. Just like that you've got great looking, thin matchsticks. Easy peasy.
For the dressing look for some Chinese roasted sesame paste. Kinda like peanut butter except that it is ground from sesame seeds. I love sesame in all forms and shapes and sesame is no exception. A word on the purchasing of sesame paste though. I think that for a long time, at least in Hong Kong, the only kind of sesame paste one could find was the stuff from europe that is known as tahini. Tahini is really expensive. But good, I have to say, really good. However, recently there has been roasted sesame paste from China available, much cheaper, not as good, but good enough for a sauce or two. Just remember to keep it in the fridge once it's been opened.
And here at last, what I consider the secret to this dish. If you really want a great Bang Bang salad you must add roasted and finely ground Sichuan peppers. This pepper is very aromatic and fragrant with a distinctive taste, not spicy per se but, once you grind it up, it imparts a tongue numbing spicy factor along with its aromatics that is delightful and truly unique. I only recently figured out that, in order to get the numbing factor, you've really got to grind the spice down before adding.
Okay, so we're doing good here, we've banged our hearts out and now our Bang Bang Chicken Salad is ready. What a delight this salad is! You've got your fragrant sesame with that hidden strong kick of tongue numbing spiciness. You've got your chewy, tender chicken. Then that layer of fresh green, crunchy and refreshing cucumber. And last but not least the texture of that tender chewy translucent mung bean noodle. Yummilicious...please enjoy!
Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe
1-2 cooked chicken breast
4 oz mung bean sheet (100g)
1 cucumber, japanese or english type
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
4 tbsp chicken stock or water
1 1/2 tbsp chinkiang black rice vinegar
3 tsp sugar
2 tsp chilli oil (optional*)
1/2 tsp sichuan pepper, roasted and ground
1 tbsp sesame oil
Soak mung bean sheet for a few minutes in cool water until soft. Drain well and cut into strips 1/2" thick. Bang the chicken breast with the side of cleaver or a rolling pin until meat is loose and tender, then shred with fingers or a fork. Slice cucumber into thin matchsticks around 3" long
Roast the sichuan peppers in a pan over low heat for a few mins until aromatic, then grind until fine. (A mortar pestle works great here.) Mix all the ingredients of sauce together.
Heap mung bean sheet strips over bottom of serving plate. Top with cucumber, then chicken. Drizzle sauce all over and chill until ready to serve. Just before serving sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds. At the table use clean chopsticks to toss the dish together before serving.
*Tip: For hot and spicy lovers, this dish is ideal! Just up the spiciness by adding in the optional chili oil and increasing the amount of ground sichuan pepper to your spiciness liking.
More Cool and Refreshing Chinese Salads at The Hong Kong Cookery: