School of Wok’s stir-fried Sichuan chicken

School of Wok’s stir-fried Sichuan chicken

Chinese Unchopped
20 mins
Cooking time
15 mins
Martin Poole

The region of Sichuan is situated on the Western side of China and is therefore heavily influenced by ingredients from Tibet and northern India – the most significant of which, Sichuan peppercorns, has become increasingly popular in the West in recent years. Sichuan peppercorns (dried red berries, native to China) have a distinct fragrance when crushed and provide a unique numbing feeling all over the tongue: something the Chinese call ma la. They can be easily found in most Oriental supermarkets.


Quantity Ingredient
1/2 onion
1 red pepper
400g boneless chicken thighs
3 garlic cloves
1 bird’s-eye chilli
1 spring onion
2 teaspoons sichuan peppercorns
10 dried red chillies
200g cashew nuts
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

The marinade

Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
a large pinch chinese five-spice
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour

The sauce

Quantity Ingredient
2 teaspoons chilli paste or chilli bean paste
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine


  1. Slice the onion and red pepper into fine matchsticks and the chicken into 3cm-wide strips. Put the chicken into a small mixing bowl, add the marinade ingredients and, using your hands, massage the pieces until they are evenly coated.
  2. Finely chop the garlic and bird’s-eye chilli, and finely slice your spring onion. Crush the Sichuan peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl or ramekin.
  3. BUILD YOUR WOK CLOCK: place your sliced onion at 12 o’clock, then arrange the peppers, dried chillies, chicken bowl, crushed peppercorns, garlic, bird’s-eye chilli, sauce bowl, cashew nuts and spring onions clockwise around your plate.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok over a high heat until smoking-hot. Add the onions, red peppers and dried red chillies and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned and slightly softened.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium (so as not to burn the onions), push the veg to the side of the wok and add ½ tablespoon of vegetable oil to the centre.
  6. Bring the wok back to smoking point, add the chicken and stir-fry 3–5 minutes until golden brown on all sides.
  7. Lower the heat to medium, add the crushed peppercorns and garlic to the wok and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes, then add the bird’s-eye chilli and sauce and continue to stir-fry over a medium-high heat for another 2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and reduced and is sticking to the chicken.
  8. Add the cashew nuts and cook for a final 30–60 seconds, tossing the wok to combine all the ingredients well. Tip onto a large plate and scatter over the spring onion to finish. Serve.


  • Can’t find Sichuan peppercorns? Swap them out with a mix of crushed juniper berries and chilli flakes.


  • If you’re a keen chilli eater and fancy something with a little more punch then throw in a mixture of different types of chillies here: dried or fresh, whatever you can get your hands on.
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