Warning! This dish is spicy. It is not for the faint of heart (or mouth). I am not kidding.
It also makes enough for a crowd, so have lots of very hungry, and very brave friends and family on hand when you make it. Or, you know, just divide everything by two and make less. Your choice.
Many people are familiar with Bang Bang chicken or shrimp dishes, mainly from some very large and trendy Asian-style chain restaurants that serve Westernized versions. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that. I have always enjoyed some Westernized Asian food. But when it comes to creating recipes for you fine folk, I wanted go more authentic.
This dish originates in the Sichuan region of China, and so instead of checking out the latest restaurant knock-off, I studied the food blogs of various Sichuan Chinese home cooks to read up on how it's traditionally made, and determine whether or not it could be successfully ketofied while still maintaining the qualities that make it such popular fare.
So, here it is. Bang Bang Chicken, with no soy, no sugar, or cornstarch.
Notes: One of the things Sichuan cuisine is known for is a particular mouth sensation that can be fairly accurately translated as "numb." They most often get that in their dishes by using Sichuan peppercorns, which are actually a seed from the citrus family and not true peppercorns at all. Regardless of their origin, they produce a distinct kind-of piney and peppery flavor as well as that famous numbing sensation on the lips and tongue.
Unfortunately, they can be a bit hard to find. If you want super authenticity, order some online. Otherwise, the same flavor profile can be simulated by combining whole black peppercorns with whole coriander seeds. I toasted mine briefly in a dry skillet. The idea is to get them just warm enough for their natural oils to be drawn out for maximum flavor potential.
Popular lore is that the name "Bang Bang" refers to the spiciness of the sauce, but from my research it's more likely referring to the stick they would traditionally use to pound the poached chicken into shreds. And because that's how they shred their chicken, that's how I do it here. If you prefer to shred it with two forks, whatevs. Also, feel free to swap in an equal weight of chicken thigh meat instead of breast.
For the chicken:
- 3 lb (48 oz/ 1361 g) boneless, skinless chicken meat
- water to cover
- 2 whole scallions, trimmed
- 2″ chunk ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
For the accompaniment:
- 1 lb (16 oz/ 454 g) seedless cucumber, trimmed and cut into julienne (cut into matchsticks)
- 4 packages Miracle Noodles, angel hair, drained, rinsed and prepared according to the package direction
For the sauce:
- 1 1/4 oz (35 g) scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 c (4 fl oz / 118 ml) coconut aminos
- 1/4 tsp sugar free liquid smoke
- 1/3 c (approx. 2.64 fl oz/ 78 ml) sesame oil
- 1/4 c (2 fl oz/ 59 ml) chili oil
- 4 tsp Sichuan peppercorns (OR 2 tsp each black peppercorns and whole coriander seed)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 2-4 drops liquid stevia (if desired)
- 2 c (16 fl oz/ 473) reserved poaching liquid
Poach the chicken:
- Fill a large pot about 2/3 of the way with water and add ginger and whole scallions.
- Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
- Add the raw chicken to the boiling water and bring the liquid back to a boil.
- Once it’s boiling again, turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10-12 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to rest.
- Reserve 2 c (16 fl oz) of the poaching liquid.
Make the sauce:
- In a dry skillet on low heat, lightly toast the peppercorns (or the peppercorns and coriander seeds) until just fragrant.
- Mix the toasted peppercorns and all other sauce ingredients together. Set aside.
Shred the chicken:
- With a rolling pin, beat/pound the cooked and rested chicken, a few pieces at a time to shred.
- Repeat until all the chicken is shredded.
- In a bowl, layer Miracle Noodles, julienne cut cucumber, chicken, and top with sauce. Repeat for each individual serving.
Since you won’t be consuming any of the aromatic ingredients in the poaching liquid, I didn’t include the ginger and extra scallion in the macros.
You can find olive oil-based chili oil on Amazon. Otherwise, make your own with your preferred oil by pulverizing two tablespoons red pepper flakes in a spice grinder or food processor, and mixing them with four tablespoons warmed oil. Let it stand for several hours before using. For best results, I recommend using light olive oil and Asian red pepper flakes.
Per serving: 385.2 cal, 39.1 g protein, 21.6 g fat, 7.9 g carbs, 3.2 g fiber, 4.7 g NET carbs
- Serving Size: 1/8 recipe
Keywords: Bang Bang Chicken, Chinese, Sichuan