Chinese Chicken Recipes

Beery Chicken

This may not be genuinely Chinese, but that’s where I had it (several times). It’s usually pretty hot, but it also works without chilli, if you don’t like spicy food.

You’ll need chicken (drumsticks and thighs, not breast, skinned), dried red chillies, fresh ginger, garlic, spring onion, sugar, salt, soy sauce, cornflour, and beer.

Marinate the chicken (with a little garlic, a tsp of cornflour, a splash of soy sauce, and a dash of beer) for about 30 minutes.

Chop the garlic, chillies and spring onion small and the ginger into big slices so it’s easy to pick out later. Quantities depend on personal taste.
Heat a little oil until it starts to smoke and add everything, except the chicken
Stir-fry until fragrant (seconds rather than minutes) then add the chicken and stir-fry a bit longer until it is lightly browned. Next add more soy sauce and a little sugar. After this, when some of the liquid has evaporated, add the salt, and then pour the beer on top (about 200ml will do; drink the rest, if you haven’t already) and heat it at medium-hot until the beer has also evaporated. You’re done! 

Definitely something to eat with rice.

Accompanied by beer.

Bangbang ji

Bangbang chicken‘ or Chicken Bang Bang!, taking its name from the wooden stick (bang meaning ‘stick’) with which you have to beat the cooked chicken, so you can shred the chicken meat easily. Very famous in Sichuan and all over China, this starter with cold chicken, cucumber and a sesame-chili sauce is easy to make and really delicious.

  • Take 2 chicken breasts (preferably organic) and lower into just boiling water, keep at a slow simmer. Let poach for at most 15 minutes on the lowest heat (you could even switch it off), then take out and let cool.
  • Meanwhile, cut 1 cucumber into strips. The trick is to make oval slices from the cucumber and make long strips from those. Put on a plate.
  • Prepare a sauce with half a clove of smashed garlic, 4 tablespoons of sesame paste (tahini), 4 tablespoons of sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of soy, 2 tablespoons of Chinese vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  • Add some sweet bean sauce if you like.
  • Add chilli oil (up to 4 or 5 tablespoons), it should be very hot.
  • When cooled, shred the chicken with your hands into strips. Don’t use a knife or anything, or the effect of this dish will be lost!
  • Arrange on top of the cucumber and pour the sauce on top – sometimes you have to dilute the sauce if it is too thick: add plain water or some of the liquid from poaching the chicken.
  • Add some drops of chilli oil, scatter spring onion rings on top and sprinkle with ground Sichuan pepper (huajiao fen).
  • You can sprinkle on some crushed roasted peanuts as well.
Sichuanese Red Chicken / Chicken chunks in red-oil sauce

(recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop’s “Sichuan Cookery”)

300-400g cold cooked chicken meat
3-4 spring onions
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons white sugar
3-6 tablespoons chilli oil (preferably home-made, with sediment)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks
Cut the spring onions into bite size chunks (or diagonally into “horse-ear” slices)
Mix the chicken and onion in a serving dish
Combine the soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the chilli and sesame oils, stir well and then pour over the chicken and spring onion.
Mix well.

Clay Pot Chicken Rice (鸡肉煲仔饭)

Clay pot rice (煲仔饭, bao zai fan), originally Cantonese cuisine, is now popular throughout China and among overseas Chinese communities (see also Malaysian CPCR and Singapore CPCR). The term generally refers to rice with marinated meat and vegetables, cooked in one pot, then drizzled with a sauce. Perfectly cooked clay pot rice has a great flavour, with nicely crisped rice on the bottom of the pot.

There are many types of clay pot rice, for example, pork ribs with black beans, Chinese sausage, salted fish, and even frog (I haven’t actually tried this, but I have seen it on a menu).

When cooking perfect clay pot rice, the trickiest part is to control the heat so that all the ingredients are cooked perfectly at the same time. You could end up with uncooked rice on the top, burnt rice on the bottom, the rice ending up like porridge, or the meat not cooked through.

There are two methods. One method is to cook everything together with the rice from the beginning, until cooked through (this is supposed to be the more authentic way). The other method is to cook the rice and meat separately. When the rice is half cooked, the meat and veggies are added to the rice.

This recipe uses the second approach, because:
– the chicken tastes better if browned first
– it is easier to control the outcome
– this method is more suitable for cooking without a clay pot or rice cooker.


  • Adjust the amount of water according to the ingredients you’re using, because the ingredients themselves contain water and will add extra moisture to the rice. For example, if you add more green vegetables than called for in the recipe, you might want to slightly reduce the amount of water.
  • Even if you measure everything, you might still need to adjust the amount of water according to the cooking results, because there are so many factors affecting the doneness of the rice. For example, the type of grain, the type of stove, and the cooking equipment used all have an impact.
  • Soak the rice for 30 minutes and drain. This is very important. It helps the rice cook through evenly.
  • Use a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron is perfect). It will hold and disperse heat better, so the rice will cook evenly.
  • Use a gas stove if possible. After the rice is half cooked, you should immediately turn to lowest heat and cover the pot. If you’re using an electric stove, what you can do is turn another ring to low heat beforehand, and transfer the pot to the low heat slot after covering it.


For the rice
1 cup (230 grams) uncooked white rice (short round)
About 350ml water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
15 (20 grams / 0.5 ounces) dried shiitake mushrooms (or 2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms)

For marinade
2 (500 grams) bone-in chicken leg-and-thigh portions, chopped or 4 boneless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or Japanese sake)
1 teaspoon ginger , minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornflour

For the sauce
3 cloves garlic , crushed
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups Chinese broccoli, baby bok choy or chopped broccoli (Optional)


Rinse rice a few times and drain. Add water and mix. Let the rice soak for 30 minutes.
Rinse shiitake mushrooms. Place dried shiitake mushrooms in a medium sized bowl and add warm water to cover. Mix a few times so that the mushrooms are coated with water. Set aside and allow to rehydrate for about 20 minutes. (Slice fresh mushroom if you use it instead.)
Chop the chicken leg-thigh portions into 4 to 5 pieces. Alternatively, you can use chicken drumsticks, boneless thigh, or wings. Chicken breast doesn’t work very well in this recipe.
Combine chicken, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, ginger, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. Blend in cornflour and mix well by hand until chicken is evenly coated. Marinate at room temperature.
When the shiitake mushrooms are soft, carefully rinse them to remove any dirt. Drain and set aside.

Drain rice and add into a medium sized dutch oven (or clay pot). Add 350 ml water. Heat over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil and mix well. Bring to a boil while stirring regularly, just like cooking risotto. Turn to medium heat. Continue to cook and stir, until the water is almost absorbed by the rice, about 5 minutes. Cover and simmer over lowest heat for 10 minutes.
While simmering the rice, cook the chicken and mushrooms.
Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil into a wok or frying pan over medium high heat until warm. Add chicken and let it cook for 1 minute without stirring. Place the chicken so that you cook the skin side first, until golden brown. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown, and the chicken is half cooked through. Turn to lowest heat. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
(Optional) Use a spoon to transfer the extra oil to a small bowl, until just a thin layer of oil remains in the pan. If you use skinless chicken, skip this step.
Turn back to medium high heat and add shiitake mushrooms. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
When the rice is ready (the water should be fully absorbed by now), arrange chicken, mushrooms, and Chinese broccoli on top of the rice. Cover and continue to simmer for 18-20 minutes (the longer you simmer, the more crispy the rice on the bottom will be). Be careful – you should move as quickly as you can, so the temperature of the rice won’t drop too much.
While the rice is cooking, mix the oyster sauce with the sugar and garlic in a small bowl.
When the rice is done, remove from heat and uncover. Drizzle oyster sauce on top immediately, while the rice is hot, and mix everything well with a spatula. Scrape the rice from the bottom while the pot is still warm. Otherwise, it will be a bit difficult to scoop out.
Serve warm.

Malaysian Claypot chicken rice


225g boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast, cut into bite sized pieces
45g ginger (peeled)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shao Xing cooking wine
4 lap cheong (Chinese sausage)
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic (minced)
4 Chinese mushrooms (soaked and cut into strips)
400g long grain rice (rinsed and drained)
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
600ml chicken stock
Salt to taste
2 spring onions (finely sliced for garnishing)


Place chicken in a bowl. Grate ginger over chicken. Add soy sauce and Shao Xing cooking wine. Allow chicken to marinate for 30 minutes.
Soak lap cheong in a pan of hot water for about 10 minutes. Casings should puff up. Remove casings and slice sausages diagonally.

Marinating chicken, preparing lap cheong

In a large clay pot, heat sesame oil. Fry lap cheong until lightly brown, about 2 minutes. Remove fried lap cheong, leaving the oil in the pot. Set aside.
In the same pot, stir-fry minced garlic until fragrant. Add chicken and mushrooms. Stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add rice and dark soy sauce. Stir to mix well. Return browned lap cheong and continue to stir.

Frying stages

Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add salt. Cover, reduce heat, and allow it to simmer until all water is absorbed, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Turn heat down to the lowest setting, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off heat and remove pot. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish with sliced spring onion.

Malaysian Claypot Chicken Rice cooked in a Rice Cooker

Prepare the chicken

The first step is to prepare about 1 pound (450 gram) of bite size chicken meat. You can use either chicken thigh, or chicken breast, though thighs are better since they are so much juicier. The marinade includes the following ingredients:
oyster sauce
light soy sauce
dark soy sauce
grated fresh ginger
Simply mix these together the chicken meat and set aside for at least 15 minutes.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients
While the chicken is marinating, proceed to prep the rest of the ingredients:
mince some garlic
slice some ginger
slice some rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, (pre-soaked)
slice some Chinese sausages
wash and drain the rice
slice some spring onions
and finally, measure out salt, sugar, pepper, and sesame oil

Cooking the clay pot chicken rice with a rice cooker
Once all the prep work is done and the chicken has been marinated, it is time to start cooking.
Start on the stove top – Heat some oil in a wok/frying pan and fry garlic, ginger, shiitake mushroom, chicken (with all the marinating sauce), salt, sugar, and pepper. Once the chicken is no longer pink, add rice, mix well and turn off heat.
Finish in a rice cooker – Transfer everything from the wok/frying pan into a rice cooker pot, then add water and sesame oil, and mix well. Push the “cook rice” or “white rice” button and let the rice cooker cook the rice. Once the light turns to “keep warm”, let it rest for another 15 minutes, then open the lid, add spring onion, and fluff with a rice paddle/spatula.

The chicken rice is ready to be served, again you could garnish with sliced spring onion.

Singapore-Style Claypot Chicken Rice

Chicken marinade
1 pound chicken meat, from the thighs or breast, deboned and sliced into 2-inch pieces (450 grams)
1 tablespoon cornflour
3 teaspoons Chinese rice wine 
3 teaspoons sesame oil
1 pinch salt

Whisk the cornflour, rice wine, sesame oil and salt in a bowl, then pour it over the chicken pieces, mixing well to coat.
Set aside for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Other ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (2-inch)
1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water and sliced (28 grams)
2 ounces dried Chinese sausage, Lap Cheong, sliced (56 grams)10 ounces white rice, rinsed in cold water until the water runs clear and drained (280 grams)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
¾ cup water, at room temperature
5 ounces leafy green vegetables like bok choy, gai choy, dou miao or spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped (140 grams)
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cooking instructions
Heat the oil in a wok or a deep frying pan, then add the garlic and ginger, frying until fragrant.
Add the marinated chicken and stir-fry.
When the meat starts to brown, add the mushrooms and chinese sausage, stirring for a minute to mix well.
If you’re using a claypot, place it on a hob and turn the heat to low.
Add the rice to the wok and turn the heat to high, mixing as you go to allow the rice to fully absorb the flavor of the other ingredients.
Add the light soy sauce and sesame oil to the wok and keep stirring and mixing for another 2 minutes
Turn off the heat and transfer the contents of the wok to the claypot.
Add the water, then cover and increase the heat to medium.
Leave the ingredients to cook for about an hour, checking-in every 15 minutes and giving the rice a stir.
After an hour, add the vegetables, cover and turn the heat to low for 10 minutes.
Drizzle the dark soy sauce and sesame oil over the vegetables and serve, with the claypot as your centerpiece.

Cola Chicken

I don’t know quite how it came about, but this is an easy-to-make and popular party dish in China. It could just be because it’s so easy to make. Obviously, it’s at least slightly sweet, but the addition of the Chinese “usual suspects” makes it more interesting.

Cola chicken prepared by my students


500 g chicken wings, around 12 to 14 wings (drumsticks or thighs, if preferred)

600 ml cola

1 large piece of ginger

4 spring onions, chopped

1/2 tbsp. cooking oil (preferably peanut or sunflower)

a small pinch of salt

dried chilli peppers (number according to taste, chopped if you want more heat)

Sichuan pepper (about 6) and star anise (1), optional

toasted white sesame seeds as a garnish, optional



Stir a level teaspoonful of cornflour in a mixture of a tablespoonful of cola and a little soy sauce until smooth and use to marinate the chicken with a couple of garlic cloves for about half an hour. Drain.

  • Poke some small holes on the back of the chicken wings so they keep their shape after cooking.
  • Heat around 1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil in a pan along with some ginger slices and pieces of spring onion (if using the optional Sichuan peppers and anise, add them at this time) and fry the chicken wings until lightly browned.
  • At the same time, heat the cola in another pot with more ginger slices and spring onion.
  • Add the hot cola and dried red chillies to the chicken wings. By using hot cola, the meat should stay tender and not become chewy, as it would with  cold cola.
  • Simmer gently for 10 minutes and then turn up the heat and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove the ginger and spring onion and skim the surface while doing this (if using the optional Sichuan peppers and anise, remove them too at this time), so the sauce is smooth.
  • Cook until the chicken wings are thickly coated in the reduced sauce. You will probably need to stir the chicken wings continuously for the last few minutes to avoid burning.
  • Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with the sesame seeds (or sliced spring onion, chopped coriander, or any combination).
Gongbao Jiding

The story

Gongbao Jiding, known as Kung Po Chicken in the West, is closely associated with its eponymous official Ding Baozhen (1820- 1886), governor of Shandong Province. Ding rose to fame after executing powerful eunuch An Dehai, who, under the aegis of Empress Dowager Cixi, intervened in state affairs and abused his powers. Ding’s action was acclaimed by An’s opponents, including the emperor. Ding went on to have an illustrious career during which he won the good will of the people for his leadership over the flood control of the Yellow River, the Bohai Sea coastal defences, and the establishment of the Shandong Machinery Bureau.

 In 1876 he was transferred to Sichuan as governor and in that capacity he established the Sichuan Machinery Bureau, repaired the Dujiangyan irrigation system, and reformed the bureaucratic system. In 1885 when British troops occupied Burma and invaded Tibet, Ding was appointed head of the defence of the Southwest. It is during this period that he was given the honorary title Gongbao (guardian of the heir apparent), from which Kung Po Chicken’s name is derived. 

While it bears his title, creation of the dish is not actually attributed to Ding himself but to his favourite cook. The story has it that one day Ding returned home very late without having eaten. The cook hastily grabbed a few handfuls of diced chicken, chilli peppers and peanuts and stir-fried them. Though preparation was slapdash, Ding ate the dish with relish. 

Ding brought the cook with him from Shandong when he headed for his new office in Sichuan. Peanuts produced in Sichuan were as good as in Shandong, but as there was no sweet bean paste the cook had to substitute local ingredients. He used spicy bean sauce instead and a dash of sugar, which made the taste even better.

The dish became a staple when Ding entertained colleagues in Sichuan and soon became popular.

Gongbao Jiding is popular in China for its taste and bright colours. It is also the Chinese dish that has been embraced most enthusiastically in the West, and can be found in every city in Britain and the U.S. Like spaghetti from Italy and sauerkraut from Germany, Gongbao Jiding has almost become a synonym for Chinese cuisine.


I’m not giving exact quantities, because most things are either optional (salt, sugar, MSG) or a matter of personal taste (bean sauce, chillies, pepper).

Cut chicken into small cubes, marinate with soy sauce, salt, cooking wine, and eggwhite, and then add cornflour.
Mix soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, MSG, clear chicken stock, and yellow (sweet) bean sauce (or hot bean sauce with a teaspoon of sugar) together into a thick sauce.
Remove the tops and seeds of a small handful of dried red chillies and fry a bigger handful of peanuts until crisp, then drain on paper towel).
Heat oil in a wok, add dried chillies, white pepper, diced chicken, and stir-fry briefly before removing the chicken.
Leave a little oil in the wok and stir-fry the dried chillies, pepper and bean sauce. Add fried chicken and stir-fry for a few seconds.
Add sliced ginger, spring onion, and the thick sauce prepared earlier.
Finally add peanuts and stir again before serving.

In restaurants, chopped cucumber (seeds removed) is often added.

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