Even with Arizona’s coronavirus cases on a downward trend, many people remain reluctant to dine out. So we’ve decided to feature local chefs who will share recipes so you can make their favorite comfort food dishes at home. This week, Tucson Local Media brings you Carriage House and Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails Executive Chef Devon Sanner, who is also the founder and president of the Gastronomic Union of Tucson. G.U.T is a not-for-profit affiliation of more than three dozen of Tucson’s best and most beloved chefs fostering a culinary community of creativity, professional development, and community engagement. Sanner shares his recipe for Bang Bang Chicken.
Bang Bang Chicken is a perfect summer comfort dish for me. About once a week, I’ll roast a whole chicken, prepared very simply by salting generously, stuffing the bird with cut citrus, and liberally sprinkling the skin with herbes de provence. The roast chicken is great as it is, and could scarcely be easier to prepare, but what I really love is that there’s plenty to work with after my little family of three makes our first meal out of it. We’ve still got roasted bones for making a good stock, AND, we’ve got plenty of meat left to make Bang Bang Chicken, one of my favorites in the repertoire of Sichuan cuisine.
The name of the dish—Bang Bang Chicken (bang bang ji si in Mandarin)—is an onomatopoetic reference to the sound of a mallet or the back of a cleaver pounding the cooked chicken in order to shred it so that it can soak up the complex flavors of the sauce with which it gets tossed. The sauce is a combination of Chinese sesame paste and sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil, sugar, and Sichuan peppercorns. It hits all over the palate; it’s a balance of umami, sweet, salty, sour, bitter, piquant, and tingly/numbing. Such an elaborate dance of flavor gives the dish the other moniker by which it’s known—guai wei ji si, or strange taste chicken.
No need to fire up the oven and heat the house, as this dish is served cool. It’s also perfectly accompanied by Sichuan Smashed Cucumber Salad, so you can make great use of fresh market product or your own garden beauties. It’s banging flavor, low degree of difficulty, and a cool respite for the dog days of summer.