Hot & Spicy Hunan Chicken is a Chinese Style Stir Fry where boneless chicken cubes are cooked with sauces and vegetables. Here is how to make it.
About This Recipe
Hunan Chicken is a famous Chinese recipe made with chicken and vegetables tossed in a spicy and savory sauce. It is also very popular in Chinese American Restaurants around the world.
If you have been to Hunan Express or Panda Express in the US, it’s quite a possibility that you ordered this favorite takeout dish along with their Kung Pao Chicken, Mongolian Chicken or Orange Chicken.
The authentic Hunan style chicken is hot and spicy and very flavorful. Hunan-style chicken is usually made with black bean sauce or oyster sauce and has vegetables and it originated in Hunan province of China.
You can replace chicken with beef, pork or even shrimp in this recipe.
This Chicken Dish is
- Loaded with vegetables
- Ready under 30 minutes
Chilli Oil: Chilli Oil is made of vegetable oil infused with chili peppers. It adds a beautiful, vibrant red color to the dish and heat from the infused chilies. It renders smoky flavor and nutty texture to the dish. If you don’t have chili oil, use regular oil instead.
Garlic and Ginger: Ginger and garlic are the main ingredients in Chinese cuisine. Using fresh ingredients adds the best flavor to the dish
Sichuan Peppercorn: Sichuan peppercorn is found in the Sichuan region of China and is an important ingredient of Sichuan cuisine. These add heat to the dish. They are not very hot but add the amount of heat required in the Hunan Chicken. Order them online or get them from an Asian store.
Dry Red Chillies: Dry red chilies add the vibrant red/orange color along with heat to the Hunan style chicken.
Chicken Breast: I prefer chicken breast while making this chicken as it cooks quickly and the chicken remains tender. It is also easy to slice it thinly. You can also use chicken thighs.
Chilli Paste: You can add or skip chili paste depending on how spicy you like your Hunan style chicken. If you prefer more heat, add a little chili paste. Check out my homemade chili paste recipe here.
Black Bean Sauce: Black bean sauce adds a unique strong flavour to a dish.
Vegetables: I have used broccoli and bell pepper. You can use any vegetables that you like, such as carrots, beans, zucchini, corn, mushroom, and bamboo shoots.
Chinese Cooking wine: It is also known as mijiu and is one of the few most important things in Chinese cooking. If you don’t have it, use any white wine.
Rice Vinegar: Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice and adds a mildly sweet flavor to the dish.
Sesame Oil: Sesame oil is an important ingredient in Chinese cooking and adds a nutty flavor. Use regular oil if it’s not available.
Scallion Greens: Use the greens from scallion to garnish the dish once it is done to add some crunch.
Toasted Sesame Seeds: Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds before serving to add nutty texture to the dish.
Step by Step Recipe
Heat chilli oil and vegetable oil in a wok.
Once the oil is hot, add garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, dry red chilies and white part of scallion and saute for a minute.
Toss the chicken with cornflour.
Add cornflour coated chicken in the pan and fry on high heat for 4-5 minutes.
Add chilli paste, black bean sauce, broccoli and red pepper and cook for a minute.
Now add Chinese cooking wine, vinegar, salt and pepper and mix well.
Add sesame oil and garnish the chicken with scallion greens and toasted sesame seeds.
Frequently Asked Questions
To cut the chicken breast in thin pieces, keep your knife at 45 Degrees angle and cut the chicken at this angle. Cutting the chicken against the grains with making sure it turns out juicy and flavourful.
Here is a nice article which talks about cutting the chicken in a detailed manner. Do check it out.
Hunan sauce has the base of garlic, ginger, dry red chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, and white part of scallion.
It also uses Chinese cooking wine, vinegar, black bean sauce, and chili paste. It can be made easily as you can see in this recipe.
You just add the chicken and a Chinese restaurant-style dish is ready in minutes.
Hunan cuisine is also known as Xiang cuisine. Food from Xiang River, Western Hunan province and Dongting Lake comes under Hunan cuisine.
Hunan recipe is simple, spicy, and oily. Whereas Szechuan or Szechwan or Sichuan chicken originated in Sichuan province, southwestern China.
Sichuan peppercorn is used to make it, which adds a distinctive aromatic citrusy taste to it. Szechuan chicken is sweet and spicy.
Although both dishes are made using chili peppers and garlic, Hunan recipe is usually hotter than Szechuan chicken.
Hunan Chicken is a stir-fried chicken dish, which calls for vegetables and a light, spicy sauce made with oyster sauce.
Whereas General Tso’s Chicken is battered, fried crispy chicken tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce, with no vegetables.
The sauce of Hunan style chicken is light as compared to Kung Pao Chicken which is starchy and syrupy.
The chicken in Kung Pao Chicken is fried until crisp whereas, in Hunan recipe, it is just sautéed.
To make a saucy version of this, mix 1 tsp cornflour in 1/2 cup chicken broth and add it at the end of cooking. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and serve.
Hunan Chicken is hotter in flavor and not sweet. If you want something sweet and spicy, you can go for Schezuan Chicken.
Slow Cooker Recipe
To make this chicken in a slow cooker, heat oil in a skillet and saute the chicken slices until they are browned from both sides. Now add all the ingredients including the browned chicken in a slow cooker. Close the lid and cook on slow for 4 hours.
If you have leftovers, they last in the refrigerator for about 2 to 3 days. Store it properly in an air tight container.
When it comes to freezing, I would not recommend you to freeze these Hunan Chicken. The veggies will become mushy and won’t taste good while reheating.
It is best to top boiled rice with this dish and serve in a small bowl.
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Hunan Chicken Recipe
- 1 tbsp Chilli Oil
- 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 8-10 clove Garlic (Chopped)
- 1 tsp Ginger (Finely Chopped)
- 5-6 Sichuan Peppercorns
- 5-6 Dry Red Chillies
- 1/4 cup White Part of Scallion (Thinly Sliced)
- 300 g Boneless Chicken Breast (Thinly Sliced)
- 1 tsp Cornflour
- 1 tbsp Chilli Paste
- 1 tbsp Black Bean Sauce
- 1 cup Broccoli (Cut into small florets)
- 1/2 cup Red Bell Pepper (Cubed)
- 2 tbsp Chinese Cooking Wine
- 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
- 2 tbsp Scallion Greens (Chopped)
- 1 tsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
- Heat chilli oil and vegetable oil in a wok.
- Once the oil is hot, add garlic, Sichuan peppercorns, dry red chillies and white part of scallion and saute for a minute.
- Toss the chicken with cornflour.
- Add cornflour coated chicken in the pan and fry on high heat for 4-5 minutes.
- Add chilli paste, black bean sauce, broccoli and red pepper and cook for a minute.
- Now add Chinese cooking wine, vinegar, salt and pepper and mix well.
- Add sesame oil and garnish the chicken with scallion greens and toasted sesame seeds.
- Serve immediately.