Here’s a classic Sichuan dish that you'll find in many stateside Chinese restaurants, sometimes called “Bon Bon Chicken," but this recipe strives to follow the traditional method based on our experience of it Chengdu, Sichuan.
It is widely understood that the name of the snack comes from the Mandarin word for stick or club, in addition to the onomatopoeia of bang, which refers the noise the stick makes as the cook loosens the breast meat fibers before shredding. Today’s chefs will find this dramatic step helpful but unnecessary, however, as most poultry is tender enough to begin with. This shredded, cold dish is considered an appetizer, and often goes by the name "Strange Flavor Chicken"(Gwei wei ji si).
Many recipes for this dish call for poached chicken: I prefer to steam breast meat, considering it to produce a more tender result. Also, various arrangements and garnishes are employed with bang bang ji; I usually use the bed of fen si, (bean thread noodles).
1 full chicken breast, bone in, skin on, split through breast bonesesame oil for marinade10 – 11 oz pickling cucumber1/2 tsp salt1/2 tsp chili paste1 TAB sugar1-1/2 Tab sesame oil1-1/2 Tab sesame paste (editor: you can sub natural peanut butter)1 TAB soy sauce1 TAB rice wine vinegar1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn, lightly toasted and ground1 – 2 dried chilis, chopped1 TAB ginger, finely minced1 or 2 med cloves garlic, finely minced2 green onions—white portion minced, green finely shreds for garnish2 oz bean thread noodles (fen si)Sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Wash and dry split breast and rub well with sesame oil. Steam 12 minutes with towels covering steamer trays and lid. After the 12 minutes, remove towels, and turn off heat. After 2 minutes remove from steamer completely and set aside to cool. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and slice into 1/2 “ pieces if you wish to include it. Tear chicken breast flesh with the grain to produce 3/8 “ by 2 or 3” shreds and set aside in the refrigerator.
Wash cucumbers; leaving skin on, split cucumbers lengthwise and scoop out seeds and pulp. Continue slicing cucumbers lengthwise into wedges splitting each wedge until it is approximately an eighth inch thick. Cut these wedges in half, so they are 1-1/2 inch or so long. In a bowl, toss with 1/2 tsp of salt and marinate two hours or so until water puddles in the bottom of the bowl. Drain cucumbers, rinse to wash away excess salt and dry with towel. Set aside.
In the meantime mix chili paste, sugar, sesame oil, sesame paste, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ground Sichuan peppercorn, dried chili, ginger, garlic and green onion. Mix very thoroughly to break up sesame paste lumps. Set aside.
Soak the bean thread noodles in hot tap water for 20 minutes; cut to 3” length if desired, and put in boiling water for 1 – 2 minutes. Remove, rinse with cold water and drain.
Create a bed of bean thread noodles on a serving plate. Scatter cucumbers over the noodles, allowing the noodles to show all around the edge. Heap the chicken shreds on top of the cucumbers and pour sauce in the middle of the mound, allowing some of the chicken to remain visible. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion shreds