Spicy Chongqing Mala Chicken and Spanish Roasted Potato Tapas for CBC

I will be presenting these two dishes on Saturday for CBC's Weekend Morning Show with host Nadia Kidwai.  They are using local ingredients for flavours from Sichuan, China, and Spain.  Both are quite simple to prepare with big flavours.  

Chongqing, Sichuan Mala Chicken 
4 chicken thighs (available at St. Norbert's Farmers Market from Wildfire Farms)
cooking oil for frying
1/4 cup of chili peppers (or less, to tastes) Try4-5 chilies to start
1 and ½ tbsp. Sichuan peppercorn
1 root ginger, sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 scallions, white part and green part separated and cut into small sections
1/2 cup skin-on peanuts (optional)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. sesame seeds, or as needed
pinch of salt


1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice wine
¼ tsp. white pepper powder
2 tsp. cornstarch (optional)
small pinch of salt

Cut the dried chili peppers, discard the seeds and then soak the peppers in water for 15 minutes. We are doing this so we can fry the peppers later and prevent burn the peppers.

If using bone-in chicken thighs, remove bones and cut chicken into bite-sized cubes. In a large bowl, marinade the chicken cubes with all the marinating sauce. Mix well and set aside for around 10 minutes.

Heat up oil in wok or pan for deep-frying. Heat until really hot (you can see bubbles when you put a chopstick in). Add the chicken cubes in and fry until golden brown. Transfer out. I recommend frying the chicken by batches. After add the chicken cubes, let it stay for a short time (possible about 40 seconds to 1 minute) until one side is browned and then slightly stir the chicken and fry the other side.

Clean out the wok with a cloth or paper towel and add only ½ tablespoon of oil and then fry the peppers for 1-2 minutes over slowest fire until most of them becomes dark red. Add Sichuan peppercorn in and continue frying for another 1 minute over slowest heat.

Push the spices to one side and add ½ tablespoon of oil in wok and fry ginger, scallion white, peanuts and garlic until aromatic.

Return the chicken cubes, add roasted white sesame seeds, sugar, salt and scallion green sections. Mix well and serve immediately.

Potato wedges with roasted garlic dip

3 lb potatoes (try the Viking variety available at St. Norbert's Farmer's Market)
2 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp salt

Roasted Garlic Dip

2 garlic bulbs, roasted
1 tbs olive oil
5 tbs sour cream
4 tbs mayonnaise
hot smoked paprika, to taste

Roast the garlic for 25 minutes at 350ºF until caramelized. Let cool enough to handle. Squeeze out and mash. Mix in a bowl with the sour cream and mayonnaise. Season with salt and paprika. Chill.

For the potatoes, cut each potato half into 3 wedges and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, garlic and salt and toss well. Transfer to a roasting pan and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 1- 1/14 hours, or until crisp and golden.

Serve immediately with roasted garlic dip.