Today we are makingJiang Bao Ji Ding (酱爆鸡丁). Ji Ding (鸡丁) means chicken bites. Bao (爆) is a cooking method that you toss the ingredients with cooking oil in a super hot wok. Jiang (酱) refers to its thick, glossy, and savory sauce. You can look at it as the non-spicy version of Kung Pao Chicken because the ingredients and cooking methods are similar.
(Note: Click here to learn how to make the real Kung Pao Chicken)
First, let’s make an aromatic water. In a bowl, add 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup of diced green part of the scallion (reserve the white part for later), 2 tbsp of diced ginger, 3 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine. Then go in with your hand. Rub and squeeze the aromatics for a few minutes to release the flavor. Let it go through a sieve. Set the aromatic water.
Take 3.5 tbsp of the aromatic water. Mix it with 3 tbsp of cornstarch and 1/3 tsp of salt. Save the rest of the aromatic water for later.
I got here 20oz of chicken thigh, which I already cut it into bite-size. You can use chicken breast if you want.
Pour this mixture into the chicken. Go in with your hand and start massaging the meat within 1 direction for 5 minutes. Let the chicken sit for 20 minutes.
Note: This technique is called “上浆,” also known as velveting. It looks simple, but it will give you the tenderest chicken. The idea of this marinade is to create a starchy layer that protects the meat fibers, preventing them from seizing up while cooking so your chicken will come out extra juice and soft.
Make the sauce: add 1/2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of Tian Mian Sauce, 2.5 tbsp of soybean paste, 1 tsp of sugar to the rest of the aromatic water. Mix well and set it aside.
Besides that, I also prepared some thinly sliced garlic, ginger, 3/4 cup of pecan, and the white part of the scallion that I reserved.
The pecan I used is raw so we will cook that first. Turn the heat to low. Add about 3 tbsp of oil to the wok. Toss in the pecans. Stir for a couple of minutes until they become crunchy. When you take them out, be sure to tilt the wok so you can leave the oil in there. Set the pecan aside.
Turn the heat to high and heat up the wok a little bit. Toss in the chicken. Stir for a few minutes. I know it doesn’t sound long enough to cook the chicken through, which is exactly what we want because we will cook it furthermore. If the chicken is fully cooked at this moment, it will be overcooked when we mix it with the sauce. Take the chicken out and set it aside.
Pour in the sauce. Stir it on low heat. The soybean paste and tian mian sauce have a slight tard after taste. Sauteing it will help to remove that. You see now the oil is kind of floating on top of the sauce but as you are stirring and heating it, it will get mixed with the sauce completely. You just wait for a few minutes, it will start separating again. Look at the edge, right there. That means you are ready to toss in the garlic, ginger, and the reserved white part of the scallion. Stir until fragrant.
Introduce the toasted pecan and the chicken back to the wok. Keep mixing for a couple of minutes, and you are done.
This is a rice killer recipe, which means it is super flavorful and it makes you eat more rice than usual. The chicken is 10 out of 10 – soft and juice. I think the pecan did a great job at elevating the taste and texture.