No matter how I look at it, this dish has a strange name. Some know it as “Bang Bang Chicken / 棒棒雞”, which apparently refers to how the dish was traditionally made by beating the chicken with a stick, creating the “bang bang” sound, to tenderize and shred the meat.
In my family, we’ve always called it “Strange-Flavoured Chicken / 怪味雞,” the literal translation for its Chinese counterpart. This name refers to the unusual combination of ingredients and flavours that make up the sauce, resulting in something that is salty, sweet, sour, spicy and incredibly delicious tossed with some cooked chicken, cucumbers and mung bean sheets.
I love this dish because it requires very looking cooking, perfect for dinner dilemmas in hot weather. This is particularly great if you have leftover roast chicken, but you can easily steam or roast a chicken breast (or chicken thighs if you prefer).
Mung bean sheets can be found in Asian supermarkets and are very much like rice noodles, but with a slightly crunchier texture to them. You can just as easily use rice noodles as a substitute.
Traditional Bang Bang Chicken is made with Chinese sesame paste, but my mom’s variation always used peanut butter. My version uses a combination of peanut butter and tahini. If you can get your hands on a jar of Chinese sesame paste though, give it a try—Chinese sesame paste is seasoned, unlike tahini, and so leans towards the sweeter side.
While delicious eaten immediately, it tastes even better if you let it sit for an hour or two to really allow the flavours to get into the chicken.
Mom’s Strange-Flavoured Chicken / 媽媽的怪味雞
250 g cooked chicken meat, shredded
2 mung bean sheets
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon chilli sauce or chilli oil, or to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinkiang (black) vinegar
1/4 large English cucumber, shredded or thinly sliced
Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
Cilantro, to garnish (optional)
In a heat-resistant bowl, soak the mung bean sheets in boiling water for half an hour. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the peanut butter, tahini, chilli sauce or oil, sugar, light soy sauce and vinegar until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
Shred the mung bean sheets and place in a bowl, along with the shredded chicken and cucumber. Toss with the sauce until combined.
You can eat immediately, or refrigerate an hour or two. Before serving, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro for garnish, if desired. Enjoy!