How to make Guizhou Braised Laziji?
If you’re familiar with Sichuanese food, you’re probably familiar with Laziji – Sichuan spicy chicken.
It’s one of those dishes that’s basically synonymous with heat – in a proper Chongqing version there’s like more dried chilis than
there is chicken.
But today we wanted to introduce you to a dish from the neighboring Guizhou province also called – Lajizi.
Same name, same climb up to the dizzying heights of the Scoville scale, but it’s interestingly got a decidedly different cooking method.
This chicken’s braised, and so along with the familiar hiccup-inducing heat it’s also obviously’s got that whole melt-in-your-mouth
deal going on.
How To Make Guizhou Braised Laziji Spicy Chicken?
To get started then with Guizhou Laziji, we’ll need Guizhou chili paste.
This stuff is called Ciba Lajiao, pounded chili, and it’s fundamental to a number of Guizhou dishes.
I’d bet serious money that Ciba Lajiao would be impossible to buy outside of China though,so be sure to check out our recipe here if you wanna whip up a big batch the proper way.
That said, I always feel a twang of guilt giving you guys a recipe that, in turn, relies on another multi-day project of a recipe like
Ciba chili paste.
So today I’ll start off by showing you a quicker, less intense version which you do sometimes see in many Guizhou kitchens.
So.Let’s talk chilis.
Traditionally Ciba lajiao uses a mix of three parts Huaxi chilis, which clocks in at around 20k SVU and have great color, and two parts Zunyi xiaomila, which’re closely related to and roughly as hot as Thai bird’s eye so quite spicy.
But before you pull your hair out frantically trying to find those specific chilis, know that the logic of why they’re used is vastly
more important than the cultivars themselves.
I didn’t feel like sourcing Guizhou chilis for this one, so for color, I used 40 grams of Sichuan Erjingtiao chilis, but feel free
to go with anything that’s medium heat and suitably red – Arbols or Cayennes should work just fine.
Then for heat?
I used 25 grams of Sichuan Heaven facing, but you could totally use Thai bird’s eye, African Piri Piri, or maybe Tianjin.
But feel free to get creative – want to make a Guizhou chili paste with Kashmiri Chilis and Carolina Reapers?
I mean, sure, I’d be curious too.
But however to decide just reconstitute your chilis with hot boiled water and cover.
Let them soak until soft, at least one hour but overnight would be totally fine too.
After that time, take out the chilis and wring out a touch of the excess water.
You don’t need to go too nuts here because we do want some of that moisture.
Then, to help those get started, first give the chilis a rough slice.
Then toss those in a mortar along with about three cloves of roughly chopped garlic and an inch of smashed ginger.
And then just settle in and start pounding.
If you’ve got a food processor feel free to do this in there too, it’ll definitely save some sweat because this can be a bit
of a chore.
After about 15 minutes of pounding, we’re looking at some chilis that are mostly broken down but still having some flakes is completely normal.
Now at this point, if we were making a proper batch of Ciba chili paste we’d fry this stuff in spiced oil and leave it out to ferment a couple of days. but I promise that using this stuff’ll get you 90% there for this dish.
Now for the chicken.
This is one of that Chinese poultry on the bone dishes, which I know can be a contentious subject.
I’m an enormous proponent of chicken on the bone so I’ll be using a 1.25-kilo bird cleaved across the bone.
That said, if that prospect does seem daunting to you, our recommendation would be to use chicken wings.
It’d retain the same essence and you know, who doesn’t love a braised chicken wing?
If you’ve like, you can also take your wings and cleave them in half to get even closer to the Chinese style, but I tested this with
whole wings too and it’s also quite tasty.
But either way, there’s actually no need to marinate this we can fry it directly.
So we’ll be frying this chicken in about two cups of oil in two separate batches.
Here we’re using Chinese Caiziyou which’s a virgin rapeseed oil that’s classic to the Chinese southwest but peanut oil would
also work just fine.
So over max flame get the oil up to a blistering 200 centigrade and drop it in.
Now as you can probably tell, we’re really starting to flirt with crowding this thing you can absolutely opt instead for a proper
deep fry with a more proper oil quantity, but we’ll be using this frying oil as the base of our braise thus the two cups.
And because we’ll be braising this in the end, there’s really no need to be too paranoid here just get the chicken good and golden
brown, which was about five or six minutes on our stove for each batch.
And with all our chicken fried, we can braise.
So at this point, evaluate your oil.
You want there to be about a cup, cup, and a half of oil remaining.
It’s gonna feel like a lot of oil, but trust that you do have to start with a solid amount get a properly red base – you can always
dip some out later on in the cooking process.
So then over a medium flame get the oil up until its bubbling around a pair of chopsticks.
Now toss in two inches of smashed ginger and one head’s worth of garlic cloves.
Fry those until fragrant, about a minute, then swap the flame to low.
Now go in with your chili paste – we ended up yielding 175 grams in all – the low heat’s needed to make sure the chilis don’t scorch.
Stir and fry until the oil itself’s changed color or about three minutes, then go in with an optional but recommended three tablespoons of Pixian Doubanjiang, chili bean paste.
See, if you’re using a more complex Ciba lajiao, you really don’t need that chili bean paste… but using the kind of quick
paste we made today we’d really suggest it.
Now fry that for another couple of minutes, and at this point, your base should be obviously stained.
Then go in with your chicken, give it a good mix to coat with the red oil, then add in a half a liter of water… we’re working
at a ratio of one part oil to two parts water.
Then swap the flame to high, bring to a boil, turn your flame to the lowest heat your stove go and cover.
Quick note though that these sorts of wok lids aren’t exactly airtight and still allow for reduction, so if you’re working with
a heavier lid makes sure to leave a sizable crack.
We’ll want the liquid to be about 90% reduced, which does take a while, so crack a beer, relax, and check on the guy periodically.
90 minutes later, this’s what we’re looking at.
At this point, if you’re finding things too oily feel free to scoop out a bit – it makes for a great chili oil substitute – and
if things are looking watery, you can uncover and swap the flame to high to finish the reduction.
We were looking good though, so then season with two teaspoons sugar and one teaspoon MSG.
No skipping the MSG this time, it is important to balance the spice.
Brief mix, then go in with three sprigs of green garlic cut into inch and a half sections.
White portions first which take a little longer to cook, so give that a one-minute mix and drop in the green parts.
If you can’t source green garlic by the way, feel free to sub that for scallion.
Quick mix, heat off, and out.
Guizhou laziji, done.
So in Guiyang for this kind of meat stew dishes, besides eating it straight up like this, there’s another way of eating it which is called “Gangguo” dry pot.
What you do is that you basically finish eating all the meat, and then you put some broth in, and you add some vegetables, mushrooms, tofu and turn it into a hotpot kind of dish.
Which is really delicious, and my favorite is the one that you put in the tomato broth and turn it into like a tomato-chicken-hotpot.
It’s really awesome.
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