Chongqing Chicken: A Traditional Spicy Dish with Dried Red Chilies. Try Our Authentic Sichuan La Zi Ji Recipe at Home.

How to Make Authentic Chongqing Chicken (Sichuan La Zi Ji)

Recipe by Annie TibberCourse: China Food


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Chongqing chicken is a classic spicy dish made with chicken and dried red chilies. Follow our authentic Sichuan La Zi Ji recipe and prepare this traditional dish in the comfort of your home.


  • For the Chicken/Marinade:
  • 3 boneless and skinless chicken thigh pieces

  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch

  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 teaspoon of oil

  • 2 teaspoons of Shaoxing wine

  • 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce

  • For the Remaining Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons of oil

  • 2 tablespoons of Sichuan peppercorns

  • 2 slices of ginger (cut into julienne strips)

  • 5 cloves of garlic (sliced)

  • 2 slices of ginger (cut into julienne strips)

  • 1 cup of whole dried red chilies (refer to note!)

  • 1 teaspoon of Shaoxing wine

  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar

  • 1 scallion (chopped)


  • Note: You can use fewer dried chilies if you prefer. This dish won’t be overly spicy unless you break open some of the dried hot peppers. If you like it spicy, avoid breaking open more than six peppers. Trust me; it’ll be hot enough.
  • Begin by rinsing the chicken and cutting it into bite-sized pieces. Place the chicken in a bowl and coat it with the marinade ingredients. Let the marination process take 30 minutes.
  • Complete the preparation of the remaining ingredients. When you’re ready to cook, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok over high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer, letting it sear (DO NOT STIR at this point). Once you achieve a good, crispy crust on the bottom of the chicken, stir and continue searing until the chicken is browned and crispy on all sides. It’s crucial to have a hot wok for this. Turn off the heat and transfer the chicken to a plate using a slotted spoon.
  • There should be approximately 1 tablespoon of oil remaining in the wok. Add more if necessary. Heat the wok over medium-low heat, and introduce the Sichuan peppercorns. Toast them until fragrant, which should take about 1-2 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic, cooking for an additional minute. Incorporate the whole dried chilies and stir for another minute, being mindful of the heat to prevent burning.

Chongqing Chicken (or Chongqing La Zi Ji – 重庆辣子鸡) is an extraordinary dish. It’s legendary, dramatic, and incredibly flavorful (at least in my opinion). Despite its fiery appearance, it’s surprisingly delicious.

Chongqing, located in China’s Sichuan province, boasts a population of over 30 million. Just imagine the amount of Chongqing chicken and other spicy delicacies consumed there!

If you’ve ever seen it on a Chinese restaurant menu, you might have hesitated to try it due to its intense spiciness. All those chili peppers can be intimidating, but I adore it!

Whenever I order Chongqing Chicken in a restaurant, my usual gripe is that there are more peppers than chicken. This is why I decided it was high time to recreate it at home.

Before I dive in, there are a couple of things about this dish that I deliberately deviated from. Firstly, the traditional version uses bone-in chicken, cut into small pieces. While I’m a fan, and so are most Chinese people (for some reason, we don’t mind navigating tiny bones, whether it’s meat or fish), I opted for boneless chicken thighs for your convenience (and at Sarah’s request).

Secondly, the usual method involves marinating and deep-frying the chicken. In my opinion, it’s unnecessary. A thorough sear in a good wok can yield equally delightful results without excessive oil.

Lastly, as I mentioned, there are almost always more chilies than chicken in this Chongqing Chicken La Zi Ji dish. Typically, the dried red chili peppers nearly engulf the chicken when it’s served, requiring diners to hunt for the meat. I wasn’t a fan of this, as it seemed like a waste of chilies. Consequently, I’ve made some adjustments to my recipe, all while (hopefully) retaining the dish’s striking presentation.

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