Bang Bang Crispy Chicken

November 20, 2020
8 Ratings
Photo by Lizzie Munro
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 3 or 4
Author Notes

Sichuan cuisine is all about bringing big flavors—with dishes like kou shui ji, or “mouth-watering chicken” (sometimes translated as “saliva chicken” because of the way its numbing-hot spices make you drool) and guawei ji, or “strange flavor chicken” (again, a literal description of its curiously delicious spices). Another amazingly named chicken dish from China’s Sichuan Province is “bang bang chicken” (sometimes translated as “bon bon chicken”), but this time, the name describes the wooden stick used to bang on the chicken after it’s been cooked. Why bang on the chicken? It will help you quickly tear the chicken into delicate shreds. That shredded meat is placed in a serving dish, and a tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet sauce is poured over it, working its way into all the nooks and crannies and getting totally absorbed by the chicken. Bang Bang Chicken is typically made with poached or steamed chicken breasts. And sure, you could substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts here, but I’d recommend any bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, so you’ll get crispy skin as well as juicy meat and drippings to add to your sauce.

If you’ve converted to spicy chile crisp cultdom thanks to Lao Gan Ma, a brand of the spicy, crunchy condiment with a dour-faced woman on its label, it’s time to make it from scratch. When chile flakes, garlic, and shallots have just sweltered in hot oil, the toasty, spicy, salty flavors are on another level, and a little goes a long way. Try it out in with Bang Bang Crispy Chicken, where it’s stretched out with vinegar and soy sauce, or just make a fresh batch whenever you’re cooking something that can use a kick (every day?). I like to make this chile oil using the simple pour-over method; just be certain to use a vessel that’s heatproof up to 500°F. Bakeware such as Pyrex and CorningWare is fine—but whatever you do, don’t use just any random glass, as it will shatter (you can use a pot or pan, if you’re nervous or unsure).

Recipe courtesy of SHEET PAN CHICKEN: 50 Simple and Satisfying Ways to Cook Dinner. Copyright © 2020 by Cathy Erway. Photography by Lizzie Munro. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.Cathy Erway

What You'll Need
  • Bang Bang Chicken
  • 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts or any other bone-in, skin-on piece
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Crispy Chile Oil (below)
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese sesame paste
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Chinese black vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 (1-inch) pieces fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
  • Steamed rice; cooked Asian wheat noodles, soba noodles, or bean thread noodles; or shredded lettuce for serving
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped
  • Crispy Chile Oil
  • 1 small shallot, sliced as thinly as you can (use a mandoline, if it helps)
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced as thinly as you can (use a mandoline, if it helps)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red chile flakes (think 1 for medium heat, 2 for spicy heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed
  1. Bang Bang Chicken
  2. Heat the oven to 450°F.
  3. Rub the chicken with the sesame oil, salt, and white pepper. Gently slide your finger underneath the skin of each breast to loosen it from the meat a bit (this will encourage the skin to crisp up in the oven). Place the chicken on a sheet pan, skin-side up. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, until the chicken skin is nicely crisped and a kitchen thermometer inserted into a breast registers 160°F.
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the chile oil, optional sesame paste, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and ginger. Set aside.
  5. Transfer the pan to a flat surface—one that’s heat-proof or protected with hot pads. Slowly press down on each chicken piece with a rolling pin and roll along its length so the meat breaks and shreds apart a bit. If preferred, remove and discard the bones. Scrape the pan to collect any browned bits and juices and add them to your sauce.
  6. Place the rice, noodles, or shredded lettuce in a large serving dish and set the banged-up chicken pieces on top; otherwise, put the chicken directly in the serving dish. Scatter the cucumber over the chicken, then pour the sauce all over. Top with the peanuts (if using), scallions, and cilantro and enjoy.
  1. Crispy Chile Oil
  2. Combine the shallot, garlic, chile flakes, and salt in a small heatproof bowl or a large heat-proof measuring cup (or in a small saucepan, if you’re unsure if your bowl or measuring cup is heatproof).Heat the neutral oil in a saucepan over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until it is very hot and beginning to smoke. Carefully pour the hot oil over the chile flake mixture, standing away as it bubbles for several seconds. Cool for 10 minutes before using right away. Can be stored, covered in a jar and refrigerated, for up to 3 months.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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  • Jennifer Bloom
    Jennifer Bloom

4 Reviews

Jessamin December 21, 2021
Heaven. I used a mix of random bone-in, skin-on pieces that I needed to use (all dark meat) and it worked great. Amazing bowl of noodles. I think this is very satisfying weeknight dinner material if you’re willing to use a couple of tablespoons of Lao Gan Ma as the base of your sauce, but if you have time it’s worth it to make the chili crisp from scratch. Can’t wait to try this over and over served over various starches and greens.
On T. January 17, 2021
So easy that I immediately bought more chicken and made it twice in one week. I'll probably adopt this method + temperature of roasting chicken for other recipes, as it came out perfectly juicy and crisp.
Jennifer B. December 21, 2020
This got rave reviews from my whole family (ages 14 to 52). This is easy and so delicious!
victoria W. November 22, 2020
I just made this for lunch and we loved it. I did a version with tofu as well and it worked beautifully. Press tofu and coat in cornstarch before treating it the same way as the chicken. Easy to be vegetarian and equally good!