Mains Protein Recipes

Zha Zi Ji

This traditional Guangdong dish lacks batter and breading, but makes up for it with delicate meat and crispy skin. The chicken is poached with spices, then dried and cured in vinegar-based syrup, which helps develop crispy skin during frying. It’s typically served with a mixture of salt and dried Sichuan peppers, and prawn crackers.

Recipe by Chan Kai-ying, executive chef at Chilli Fagara.

*Featured in Crave’s Issue 86, August 2017


20 minutes; 10 minutes

(Serves 2 to 4)

226g chicken breast

113g spinach leaves

1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp fresh ginger juice
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp potato starch

1 tsp bean paste
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn oil
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn powder
5 pieces green onion


1. Make the Marinade

  • Combine marinade ingredients until blended.

2. Marinate the chicken

  • Cut chicken into two-inch strips and cover with the marinade, rubbing it into the meat.

3. Prepare the sauce

  • In a large pan, sauté the bean paste, dark soy sauce, Sichuan peppercorn oil, Sichuan peppercorn powder and minced garlic for three minutes until aromatic.

4. Cook the chicken

  • In the same wok, stir-fry chicken strips. Once cooked, toss with sauce and cook until fragrant.

5. Garnish

  • Deep-fry the spinach leaves until crispy. Garnish and serve.

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