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Salt and pepper chicken on plate with chopsticks

Salt and pepper chicken

A star rating of 4.7 out of 5.57 ratingsRate
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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
  • Easy
  • Serves 2 - 3

Make this easy, spicy salt and pepper chicken dish at home instead of ordering a takeaway. It's cooked with Asian greens in honey and soy, with a hint of Chinese five-spice

Nutrition: per serving (3)
NutrientUnit
kcal279
fat9g
saturates2g
carbs12g
sugars7g
fibre2g
protein37g
salt2.8g
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Ingredients

  • 500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns (use normal peppercorns if you can't find these)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 250g Asian greens such as pak choi
  • handful chopped coriander , sliced spring onions and cooked rice (to serve)

Method

  • STEP 1

    Cut the chicken thighs into strips. Crush the salt with the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar, then mix with the cornflour and five-spice and tip into a sandwich bag. Tip the chicken into the bag and shake well to coat in the flour mixture.

  • STEP 2

    Toss the sesame seeds in a pan over a medium heat and lightly toast, for around a minute, then add the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook for 7-8 mins until golden brown.

  • STEP 3

    Mix the soy and honey and tip into the pan along with the Asian greens, cook for 2-3 mins further until everything is well coated and the greens are cooked through. Serve topped with coriander and sliced spring onions alongside some cooked rice.

What is salt & pepper chicken?

Salt & pepper chicken is a Chinese dish. The chicken is coated in a well-seasoned, gently spiced cornflour mixture before being fried for a flavoursome, moreish dish. Traditionally, it’s made with tongue-tingling Sichuan peppercorns, but if you can’t get these, you can use black peppercorns instead.

What is Sichuan pepper?

Sichuan pepper is not actually pepper, but the dried berry of the ash tree. It’s prized for the mild tingling effect it creates, rather than the simple heat associated with black and white peppers. It’s frequently used in dishes from the Sichuan province of China, and is available as whole peppercorns or ground pepper in larger supermarkets, Asian grocery stores and online.

How do you make salt & pepper mix?

Our quick and easy version involves crushing sea salt flakes with Sichuan peppercorns using a pestle and mortar, then mixing this with cornflour and Chinese five-spice powder. The mixture is then tipped into a food bag along with the chicken, sealed and shaken together so the chicken is thoroughly coated. The chicken is then fried in olive oil (or rapeseed or vegetable oil) before being drizzled with a soy & honey glaze and served alongside some greens.

What cut of chicken is best for making this dish?

We use chicken thighs in this recipe for flavour – they also stay moist and tender during the quick frying. But, if you prefer to use use chicken breasts, cut these into strips and reduce the frying time to around 5-6 mins or until cooked through.

Instead of chicken, you could also use prawns or pork (use loin steaks, cut into strips). The prawns will need to be fried for 2-3 mins or 5-6 mins for the pork.

Does salt & pepper chicken contain gluten?

This recipe is made with soy sauce, which may contain gluten. But, you can easily replace this with a gluten-free soy sauce or tamari. Cornflour is naturally gluten-free, but always check the packaging to be sure, especially if you are buying outside of the UK where ingredients can vary.

Tips for making salt & pepper chicken

  • We use olive oil in this recipe, but you can use any neutral-flavoured oil that’s suitable for frying, such as rapeseed, sunflower, vegetable or ground nut (be aware of nut allergies with the latter).
  • Make sure not to overcrowd the pan when frying the chicken. Ideally, use a large frying pan, or fry the chicken in two batches.
  • For extra-crispy chicken, remove it from the pan after frying (make sure it’s thoroughly cooked at this stage) before adding the soy-honey glaze. Keep the chicken warm while you add the glaze and greens to the pan, then serve this alongside the chicken, not on top.
  • For a healthier option, bake the chicken pieces on a non-stick baking tray with a small drizzle of oil at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for 10 mins, or until cooked through. You can also finish it under the grill to help crisp it up.
  • If you want more heat, add a pinch of chilli flakes or powder to the cornflour mix.

Variations of salt & pepper chicken

Fancy a change from chicken? Swap the chicken for prawns, squid or strips of pork. Or ,for a vegan alternative, try our salt & pepper tofu.

This recipe uses pak choi, but you could also add choy sum, shredded green cabbage, spring greens or chard. Sugar snap peas, mangetout or a mixture also work well.

We’ve garnished this dish with chopped coriander and spring onions, but you could also add red chillies or shredded ginger.

How to serve salt & pepper chicken

Because it has so much flavour, it’s best served with plain rice or noodles.

You can also leave out the soy-honey glaze and greens and stuff the chicken into burritos, wraps, pitta or buns with handfuls of thinly sliced cucumber and spring onions.

Can salt & pepper chicken be reheated?

The chicken is best eaten fresh, but leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for up to three days. They can be eaten cold or reheated, but the chicken may no longer be crisp. To heat it through without it drying out, put it in a frying pan or saucepan with a splash of stock or water, cover with a lid and simmer for a few minutes until piping hot throughout. Or, microwave along with a splash of water or stock.

Can I freeze salt & pepper chicken?

Leftovers will keep frozen for up to three months but will no longer be crisp. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then serve cold or reheat as above until piping hot.

Other salt & pepper recipes

Our salt & pepper squid is deep-fried for an extra-crisp coating.

Instead of meat or fish, try our salt & pepper chips– they’re great for sharing at parties.

Goes well with

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A star rating of 4.7 out of 5.57 ratings
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