Salt Pepper Chicken (椒盐鸡 – Jiāo yán jī)


It’s been almost 4 years since my last post! How much has changed since then! I got a PhD, married and now entering my 6th week in a global pandemic lockdown. So what better time to get back into cooking! After all everyone has to eat!

For my first recipe back into the blogosphere I have selected one of my all time favourite Chinese take-away meals. The dish has its roots in Taiwanese street stalls, where many of the most iconic Chinese dishes originate from. Also truth be told after a night of heavy drinking this is what I always crave, so makes sense it comes from night markets. Chicken wings or bites coated and fried with seasoning mixture, usually salt and pepper with optional extras like chilli powder, lightly fried basil leaves, and garlic bits are added for preference. Delicious things don’t stay local for long, this dish has migrated around the globe in may forms and has an enduring popularity with every audience.

I tried 4 or 5 recipes to try and capture the taste I remember growing up. But none of them was quite good enough. Of course the solution came from my parents, I don’t know why I didn’t just ask them first. I was initially sceptical… a batter without flour? This will never work! But as my sis always says the proof of the pudding is in the eating (name of her blog)! There’s no arguing with that! One mouthful brought me back to my childhood.

So here is it, my parents version of salt and pepper chicken. It’s often done with wings, but you can use boneless thigh fillets or breast. Also despite the name, the key ingredient is actual garlic, and there’s a lot! Bonus!



15 chicken wings
6 large cloves of garlic, pressed
Handful of spring onions 3/4 will do but I like it a lot so there’s a lot, chopped
1 tablespoon chilli flakes
1 heaped teaspoon salt
25-50 ml gf soy sauce (or light soy sauce if using normal soy sauce half the quantity)
500 ml groundnut oil or vegetable oil

For the marinade:

2 large eggs
1½ heaped teaspoon white caster sugar
1 heaped teaspoon salt
½ heaped teaspoon ground white pepper
½ heaped teaspoon ground black pepper
½ heaped teaspoon Chinese five spice
½ heaped teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn powder


1 medium wok
1 medium non stick pan
pestle and mortar
1 large bowl


  1. Start by toasting the Sichuan peppercorns in a small frying pan, dry, until lightly golden. You should get a distinct aroma from the peppercorn. Transfer to a pestle and mortar, grind to a fine powder. This is one of my favourite smells, you can make lots at once and keep it to save time.
  2. Add 2 eggs to a large bowl and beat together.
  3. Add the caster sugar, salt, black and white pepper, five spice and Sichuan peppercorn powder and mix together.
  4. Take the wing and separate the drumette and the wingette, (optional if you prefer whole wings).
  5. Add the wings to the egg and mix together then leave for 20 minutes.IMG_9915
  6. Add the oil to a medium sized pan until ~2 cm of depth. Place on high heat until hot.
  7. Add the wings in batches to avoid overcrowding. Deep fry each batch for a minimum of 8 minutes, depending on the size of wings. Stir halfway through to ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly and evenly.IMG_9931
  8. In the meantime peel and press 6 cloves of garlic and finely chop the spring onion.
  9. When the chicken is golden, remove onto a double layer of kitchen towel to drain. Repeat step 7 until all the wings are done. IMG_9936
  10. Pour away most of the oil, leaving only enough to cover the base of the pan. Return the oil back onto a medium heat, then add the garlic. The garlic should gently sizzle in the oil to release the aroma, too much heat will burn the garlic and affect the taste. IMG_9940
  11. After 1 minute or so, add the spring onion to the oil and turn up the heat to high. Fry for a further minute before adding the chilli flakes and salt. Stir together quickly.
  12. Add the chicken to the pan, then stir to ensure they are well mixed. Add the soy sauce and stir on high heat until most of the liquid is evaporated.
  13. Bam it’s done! Enjoy!
    IMG_9968Side note, I’ve used about 50 ml of gf soy sauce for this, mainly because it was the last bits in the bottle, and it’s delicious. But it does make it a bit dark. You can use 25 mls normally. It looks more like this. IMG_9811