Stir Fried Spicy Chilli Chicken (La zi ji ding)

Chicken with chillies is a recipe from Sichuan’s Chongqing, which means it’s very spicy and mouth-numbing. The idea is that when you have the finished dish, it will look like a plate of chillies, and you can then have fun searching for the smaller pieces of chicken among the chillies.

The main spices are dried red chillies (of course) and Sichuan peppercorns, and if you want to know how much to add? The answer is lots, as long as you can bear it! The traditional chilli to peppercorn ratio by weight is 4:1. However, as you can see, this version hasn’t used nearly as many chillies. That’s because I’ve bought a really spicy version of dried red chillies and thought I’d use that to reduce the amount of chillies to throw away at the end – so this is a more practical homemade version of the recipe, as it were.

You’ll need to start prepping the chicken at least half an hour before the actual cooking time, as the chicken will need to be marinaded. If you prefer, you can leave it overnight in the fridge. The actual cooking time is only around 10 minutes, and you’ll end up with tender chicken bits with a slight crispy bite.

250g chicken fillets
2-3 tbsps of Shaoxing rice wine
2-3 tbsps of light soy sauce
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of five spice powder
1/2 tsp of pepper
4 tbsps of cornflour
Handful of Sichuan peppercorns (to taste)
Handful of dried red chillies (to taste)
1 tbsp of chopped ginger
3 tbsps of sesame seeds

1-2 spring onions

You’ll also need oil for stir-frying.

Step 1: Chop the chicken into cubes of roughly 1cm across. Add this into a food bag.

Step 2: Mix the rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, salt, five spice powder and pepper together and pour into the food bag with the chicken. Squeeze out any air bubbles and let the chicken marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Step 3: Once done, pour the chicken into a bowl and coat the cubes evenly with cornflour.

Step 4: Heat a generous amount of oil in a pan, and add the chicken to this. Cook until the outsides are no longer pink (no need for the chicken to be completely cooked).

Step 5: Remove the chicken from the pan, and in a separate wok, again, heat a generous amount of oil in the pan with the Sichuan peppercorns, red chillies and chopped ginger. Heat until the oil is sizzling.

Step 6: Add the chicken cubes and keep stirring quickly on high heat. After around 2 minutes, add the sesame seeds and stir further.

Step 7: Finally, once the chicken is fully cooked, add the chopped spring onions and stir, then serve!


Often, the cornflour will be listed as optional, but I feel that it really does give the outside of the chicken a lot more bite, so would definitely recommend keeping it in the recipe. What do you think?


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