Some decades ago my mom tore a recipe for “Szechuan Peanut Chicken” from the local newspaper. She has made it almost weekly since then, and it has now become a regular fixture on my menu as well.
This was before the advent of the Internet, when recipes were cut from magazines and newspapers and lovingly tucked into index card boxes for future reference. Mom still has the shard of newspaper from which this chicken dish was born, though the version we enjoy today bears only some resemblance to the original.
There is actually nothing Szechuan at all about this chicken dish, despite its name. In fact the odd combination of ingredients (peanut butter and salsa!) defies cultural categorization. So I’ve dropped the Szechuan, and left it at “Peanut Chicken”.
Whatever you call it and however you categorize it, it’s good. So good you won’t even believe you are eating chicken breasts. Which, if you are new to my blog, is a recurring theme—the general disdain for chicken breasts, that is. I am always seeking out new ways (like this one) to transform the busty little things from drab to fab. And in this case, all it takes is the unexpected combination of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, PB and salsa.
Which I appreciate is not the obvious makings of love at first bite. In fact, when I told my beloved friend—and trusty recipe tester–Afshan about this recipe, she was quick to decide that the whole thing sounded “disgusting”. (Tell me how you really feel, Afshan!) “You’re going to have to figure out a way to sell it,” she insisted.
To that I say: it’s been on the menu for 20 years.
To boot, it’s kid-friendly (“soooo delicious,” if you ask the Bean), comes together in a weeknight flash, and—if you are inclined to make a double batch—can be stashed in the freezer for a future meal.
Serve this dish over rice or quinoa, with salad or a green veggie–we favour plain steamed broccoli or bok choy to cut the saltiness of the chicken.