Hunan Chicken was my favorite Chinese takeout back in the early 2000’s when I was working in San Francisco. I would always order the tender chicken, stir-fried with carrot, broccoli, black fungus in a mouthwatering spicy Hunan sauce.
The chicken breast pieces were always silky, tender, velvety, and the sauce was absolutely addictive and delicious with steamed white rice.
Fast forward many years later, I constantly miss the dish so I decided to develop a homemade Hunan Chicken recipe.
Tips on How To Make Hunan Chicken
- To make sure that every single bite of the chicken is tender and soft, slice the chicken breasts into pieces and marinate the chicken with egg white and corn starch. This process is called velveting in Chinese cooking, which ensures that the chicken is tender just like Chinese restaurants.
- Cut the vegetables in the recipe into uniform-sized pieces. This will ensure they cook evenly during stir-frying.
- Mix the Hunan sauce.
Hunan sauce consists of the following key ingredients with the secret ingredient being chili bean sauce or “Douban Jiang” (豆瓣酱), which is made from chili peppers and fermented soy bean paste.
- Bottled chili bean sauce or douban jiang
- Chicken broth
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce
The sauce should be savory with a nice heat from the chili bean sauce. It’s also slightly sour from the ketchup and vinegar. You can mix and make the Hunan sauce in advance as you can freeze it in the refrigerator and use it whenever you want to make this recipe.
Hunan Chicken vs. Szechuan Chicken
Many people are confused with the difference between Hunan Chicken and Szechuan (the correct spelling is “Sichuan”) chicken. Both dishes are completely different. Hunan and Sichuan are two different provinces in China. Hunan cuisine is vastly different from Sichuan food even though both are spicy.
The spiciness of Hunan food stems from the used of the spicy douban jiang or the chili bean sauce. Sichuan food uses a lot of dried red chilies and Sichuan peppercorns.
This is a healthy dish as there are a variety of vegetables. If you use the exact ingredients called for in my recipe, the Hunan Chicken calories are 499 calories.
Serve Hunan Chicken with:
For a wholesome Chinese dinner, make the following dishes.
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- 8 oz. (226 g) chicken breast, cut into about 1/4 inch slices
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups broccoli florets, sliced carrot, sliced mushroom and red bell pepper
- 2 oz. (56 g) dry black fungus, optional, soaked in water and drained
- 5 tablespoons Hunan Sauce
- Salt and sugar, to taste
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon corn starch
- 3 dashes ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Hunan Sauce (yields 2/3 cup):
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 3 tablespoons bottled Chili Bean Sauce or Spicy Douban Jiang or Spicy Fermented Soybean Sauce (for example: Lee Kum Kee brand)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 dashes white pepper
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients in the Marinade and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Mix all the Hunan Sauce ingredients. Set aside.
- Add the oil in a heated wok, gently drop in the marinated chicken slices, stir-fry the chicken until the surface turns opaque. Dish out and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil into the wok, stir-fry the minced garlic until fragrant. Toss in the mixed vegetables, black fungus and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes.
- Toss in the chicken, put 5 tablespoons of Hunan Sauce, stir to combine well, until the chicken is completely cooked. Add extra Hunan Sauce, if you like, and add salt and sugar to taste. Dish out and serve with steamed rice.
The Hunan Sauce can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Serving Size2 people
Amount Per Serving Calories 499Total Fat 24gSaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 72mgSodium 2959mgCarbohydrates 39gFiber 5gSugar 20gProtein 31g