Editor’s Note: This article is produced in collaboration with the Chongqing Institute of Foreign Studies as part of a series of ongoing reports exploring the city’s abundant resources in intangible cultural heritages.
Chongqing is famous for its various specialties. It goes without saying that fried chicken with green chili is the symbol of spicy and delicious flavor, just as chili chicken symbolizes a spicy-hot and peppery taste.
It is common to find fried chicken with green chili almost everywhere in Chongqing. Even so, few people know that it was invented by the grandfather of the owner of the restaurant, Chen Youliang Fried Chicken with Green Chili, in Shuangfu District, Jiangjin. The dish is listed as an intangible cultural heritage of the district.
It takes a lot of effort to make authentic fried chicken with green chili. To begin with, the selection of the chili pepper is crucial. Choosing chili peppers with long-sunshine duration, commonly known as "Yangshan pepper," is necessary because long hours of sun exposure can add more spiciness to peppers. To prolong the spiciness, peppers must be cut manually with scissors to maintain their spiciness. The flavor of peppers should not be compromised by using machines. It is said that almost 50 kilograms of chili peppers are used every day in Chen Youliang's restaurant, each of which is cut by workers. In addition, chicken needs to be chopped into the proper size; if it is too big, it will not blend with flavor; too small, it will be meat scrap. When making the perfect blend of color, aroma, and taste, it is also important to pay attention to the heat and seasoning.
As an old saying goes, "Chili chicken is characterized by heaps of chili peppers, so you need to 'hunt' chicken in chili piles." It originally described deep-fried chicken cubes and red chili, but it also now describes fried chicken with green chili. Hidden in the chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns are succulent chicken pieces. Although fried, the chicken remains very tender. Put a bit into your mouth, and you will taste the delicate flavor of chicken in seconds before spiciness rushes into your head and tongue, which are then left numb. If you cannot eat spicy food, this will definitely be the ultimate stimulus for your taste buds. It is said that the dish goes well with rice, so people usually eat several bowls of it in a short period of time. Despite its pungency, one just can't help taking one big mouthful after another. That's the charm of Chongqing food, whose spiciness brings pleasure.
Often, when people think of Chongqing food, they think of hot pot. Chongqing's Jianghu cuisine (local dishes) should be known. Jianghu cuisine has a specialty that is notable for its casualness, just like the city of Chongqing. The taste of this dish is satisfying, but it does not follow a set cooking style. As a Chongqing specialty, you may also hear the proverb, "Chongqing's delicacies boast thousands of varieties, among which chicken, duck, and fish are all represented." With its outstanding numbness, spiciness, and delicious taste, fried chicken with green chili is undoubtedly one of the "hottest competitors" in Chongqing's non-descript cuisine.
Having fried chicken with green chili will give you an idea of what Chongqing is really like!
Chinese script: Ban Zhimin
Tutored by: Jing Xi
Translation: Wu Liang
Tutored by: Huang Yan, Li Jie
Voice-over: Gui Shushu
Tutored by: Wang Xin