Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe for a Fresh Light Sichuan Inspired Salad. What to Cook this Week. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe for a Fresh Light Take on the Spicy Sichuan Speciality

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Our bang bang chicken salad recipe is inspired by the classic Chinese bang bang chicken, a Sichuan cuisine specialty of cold succulent chicken served swimming in a deliciously addictive sesame sauce with a delightfully hot and numbing homemade Sichuanese chilli oil. Crisp lettuce, crunchy cucumbers and fresh fragrant coriander transform the dish into a lovely light yet filling salad.

My bang bang chicken salad recipe is based on one of our all-time favourite Chinese dishes, the classic Sichuan bang bang chicken (棒棒鸡) typically served as one of an array of starters at Sichuanese restaurants. We first tried it at a Sichuan restaurant in Hong Kong many years ago, then in China a week later, but it was in Australia of all places that we fell in love with it and I’ve been making it ever since.

It was while testing other poached chicken breast recipes that the idea of transforming the delightfully tongue-tingling, spice-laden bang bang chicken into a lighter yet still filling salad came to me, and it’s been on repeat for lunch and summer dinners ever since. Crisp lettuce, crunchy cucumbers and fresh coriander really lighten it up, turning it into a salad as addictively delicious as its mother dish.

It’s a cinch to make, too, comes together quickly, and is another fantastic use of poached chicken breasts, which will ensure Lara adds it to this collection of our best poached chicken breast recipes. But before I tell you more about this bang bang chicken salad recipe, we have a favour to ask.

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Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe for a Fresh Light Take on the Spicy Sichuan Speciality

Partly for health reasons, we’ve been trying to eat more fresh salads, less fat and fewer carbohydrates recently, in-between our recipe testing, of course. Lara has been poaching off plenty of chicken breasts, as regular readers have no doubt noticed from the recent recipes.

Chicken breasts are also fantastic value here in Siem Reap so we’ve been trying all kinds of variations of flavours, but mostly with the addition of ginger, lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves in the poaching liquid, which we then use to make an aromatic chicken stock.

When the chicken breasts are poached with ginger, I immediately think of one of our all-time favourite dishes, bang bang chicken, which originated in Southern Sichuan in China. Named after the sound made when hammering the chicken meat to soften the fibres, in its original form it’s a hot and numbing dish with chilli oil and Sichuan pepper.

I wanted to lighten that dish up by adding salad greens, so we could eat it for lunch or a light dinner, which is how I came to make this bang bang chicken salad recipe. For lunch, we don’t want to go crazy with the heat, but we still like the salad to give our taste buds a tingle.

The original Sichuanese bang bang chicken doesn’t have cucumber and lettuce, but as I wanted to transform the saucy dish, which is usually swimming in enticing sesame sauce and chilli oil into a big salad that could be served in a bowl and shared or eaten as a stand-alone dish, not necessarily with an array of other dishes as it traditionally is, we added plenty of both.

Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe for a Fresh Light Sichuan Inspired Salad. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Tips to Making this Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe

One of my best tips to making this bang bang chicken salad recipe is to not overcook the chicken breasts. We always use a meat thermometer to check that the thickest part of the chicken breasts have reached 74°C (165°F).

If the chicken breasts are of very uneven thickness, it might pay to wrap the chicken breasts in cling film and flatten them a little using a kitchen mallet.

The reason I use chicken breasts for this salad instead of chicken thighs is that there’s very little fat on them and poaching the breasts gently gives the best results.

While fat is flavour, once you taste the sauce you know you don’t need to have the chicken bursting with flavour. The gentle addition of the ginger makes the chicken aromatic.

It’s important to rest the chicken breasts for at least 10 minutes before either refrigerating them (we do this a lot) or shredding the chicken breasts.

I like to press the chicken breasts down with a cleaver on a cutting board to make it easier to shred them, as the chicken breast will break along the fibres, making it easier to tear them apart.

Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe for a Fresh Light Sichuan Inspired Salad. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

A quick note on the Chinese sesame paste for this bang bang chicken salad recipe as there appears to be a lot of confusion out there over the differences between Chinese sesame paste and tahini.

Tahini is from the Middle East and the Mediterranean and it is made from sesame seeds, which are generally hulled and lightly toasted – or not.

Chinese sesame paste is made from toasted sesame seeds and it is a darker, nuttier and thicker sesame paste than tahini.

For the same reason you would not make a Middle Eastern hummus with Chinese sesame paste, you should not substitute tahini for sesame paste in a Chinese dish.

Chinese sesame paste is readily available online or from any decent Asian grocery store, Asian supermarket, asian market, Chinese specialty food shop, or a supermarket with a good range of Asian products.

Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe for a Fresh Light Take on the Spicy Sichuan Speciality

Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe for a Fresh Light Sichuan Inspired Salad. What to Cook this Week. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe for a Fresh Light Take on the Spicy Sichuan Speciality

Our bang bang chicken salad recipe is inspired by the classic Chinese bang bang chicken (棒棒鸡), a Sichuan cuisine specialty of cold succulent chicken served swimming in a deliciously addictive sesame sauce with a delightfully hot and numbing homemade Sichuanese chilli oil. Crisp lettuce, crunchy cucumbers and fresh fragrant coriander transform the dish into a lovely light yet filling salad.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Chinese, Sichuanese
Servings made with recipe2
Calories 695 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 150 g chicken breasts - poached and shredded
  • 1 knob of ginger - peeled and smashed with a pestle
  • 2 tbsp Chinese sesame paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp ground roasted Sichuan peppercorns
  • 4 tbsp Sichuan chilli oil and 2 tbsp sediment from jar
  • 1 small lettuce of your preference - torn
  • 2 medium-sized cucumbers - sliced
  • 1 medium-sized cucumber - grated
  • 1 tbsp ginger - fresh, grated
  • 4 spring onions - (scallions) thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 handful coriander sprigs
  • 1 tbsp peanuts - roasted & crushed (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Poach the chicken breasts: place the chicken breasts in a pot large enough so they’re sitting on the bottom of the pot; pour in just enough water to cover the chicken pieces; add the knob of peeled, pounded ginger; bring the water to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low, and simmer until when you poke a thermometer into the widest part of the breast the internal temperature reaches 70°C (158°F). Remove and when the breasts are cool enough to touch, shred the chicken pieces into chunky strips using two forks or your hands.
  • Make the dressing while the chicken is poaching: to a jar with lid, add the two tablespoons of Chinese sesame paste, a teaspoon each of salt and caster sugar, two tablespoons each of light soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar and sesame oil, half a teaspoon of ground roasted Sichuan peppercorns (or chilli flakes if you can’t source them), four tablespoons of Sichuan chilli oil and two tablespoons of sediment from the jar. Stir vigorously until well combined.
  • On a large serving plate, lay down a bed of torn lettuce leaves, followed by a layer of the cucumber slices.
  • To a large salad bowl, add the shredded chicken, grated cucumber, grated fresh ginger, half the thinly sliced scallions/spring onions, a tablespoon of sesame seeds, and half the dressing and combine well.
  • Spread the shredded chicken salad over the lettuce and cucumber, evenly pour the remaining dressing over the salad, sprinkle on the remaining thinly sliced scallions/spring onions and sesame seeds, along with the fresh coriander sprigs, and serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 695kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 25gFat: 60gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gMonounsaturated Fat: 33gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 2306mgPotassium: 904mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1800IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 175mgIron: 4mg

Please do let us know in the comments below if you make this bang bang chicken salad recipe as we’d love to hear how it turned out for you.

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AUTHOR BIO

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Terence Carter is an editorial food and travel photographer and infrequent travel writer with a love of photographing people, places and plates of food. After living in the Middle East for a dozen years, he settled in South-East Asia a dozen years ago with his wife, travel and food writer and sometime magazine editor Lara Dunston.

6 thoughts on “Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe for a Fresh Light Take on the Spicy Sichuan Speciality”

  1. Thank you, Jeremy! That’s what we love to hear! Thank you so much for taking the time to drop by and let us know :)

  2. This turned out great. I always wondered what the difference was between tahini and sesame paste was! I won’t substitute tahini for Chinese sesame paste ever again!
    Cheers5 stars

  3. Hi Jane, tahini and sesame paste quite often get mixed up. Sure would not want to make hummus with Chinese sesame paste!
    Thanks for your comment.
    T

  4. Man, you guys do the best salad recipes. I’d be the first to buy your salad cookbook if you do one. My wife calls me a gym junkee. I work out twice a day. But I’m addicted to your salads more. Your bang bang salad is the best tho your shredded chicken salad is right up there. Keep doin what you doin guys.5 stars

  5. Hi Simon, thank you so much for your kind words – appreciate the encouragement! – and thanks for taking the time to drop by and let us know :)

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