Taken from The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon (Hardie Grant, £14.99 each)
- 500g (1lb 2oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 85g (3oz/⅔ cup) cornflour (cornstarch), plus 2 teaspoons extra
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice, plus ¼ teaspoon extra
- 125ml (4 fl oz/ ½ cup) chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 125ml (4fl oz/½ cup) oil
- 15 large dried red chillies, deseeded
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 4 spring onions, cut into short lengths
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Mix together the cornflour, salt and five-spice and toss to coat the chicken pieces in the mixture, then dust off any excess cornflour. In a bowl, mix together the stock, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, rice wine, the extra five-spice and pepper.
In a separate bowl, combine the extra cornflour with 1 tablespoon cold water and stir to make a smooth paste.
Heat the oil in a wok or large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, deep fry the chicken, in batches, turning until brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Repeat until all the chicken is cooked.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons oil from the wok and cook the chillies, garlic and ginger until the chillies turn dark. Add the spring onion and toss for a few seconds, then add the stock mixture and bring to the boil. Add the cornflour paste and stir constantly until the sauce boils and thickens. Add the chicken and toss to heat through. Serve immediately with rice.