- 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup white rice
- 3 tablespoon Chinese black tea
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Shao-sing wine or medium-dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably dark (See Cook's Note)
- 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 5 scallions (white and green), thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce
- Sriracha sauce or other Asian chili sauce, to taste
- Juice of 1/2 lime
Toast the Szechuan peppercorns in a dry skillet until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Cool slightly, and then crush in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle with the salt and five-spice powder until very fine. Rub seasoned salt all over the chicken thighs. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
Bring the chicken to room temperature about 30 minutes before cooking.
Line the bottom of a wok, skillet or heavy pot with a double layer of aluminum foil. Mix the rice, tea and brown sugar together and mound on the foil. Set a steamer on top, and evenly space the chicken on the rack. Cover and cook over high heat. Hot smoke the chicken until smokey-brown colored and cooked through, about 12 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, whisk the Shao-sing wine or sherry, soy, ginger, and sesame together in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, remove from heat and steep for 5 minutes. Brush over cooked chicken.
To serve: Dice the chicken into very small pieces. Toss with the scallions and peanuts in a medium bowl. Cut the lettuce leaves into 40 squares or triangular scoops. Place a drop of Sriracha on top of each lettuce cup, and top with about 2 teaspoons of the diced chicken. Squeeze lime juice over the top, and drizzle the remaining soy-ginger sauce over the chicken. Serve.
Cook's Note: Dark soy sauce is thicker and lightly sweeter tasting than other soys. It adds a depth of flavor that is great with the chicken. It can be found in Asian markets or supermarkets with a good Asian section.
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