Chengdu Chicken is named after Chengdu, the capital city of Szechuan province in western China.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 stalks celery
3 teaspoons red or black rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
½ cup hot water
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
3 tablespoons oil for stir-frying
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons hot bean sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ cup water
Rinse the chicken breasts and cut into cubes. Cut the celery into 1-inch slices on the diagonal. Blanch or parboil the celery in a pot of boiling water for 2–3 minutes.
Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, hot water, and rice wine. Set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to a preheated wok or skillet. When the oil is hot, add the celery. Stir-fry briefly and add ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir-fry until the celery changes color and is tender but still firm. Remove from the wok.
Wipe the wok clean with a paper towel. Add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry briefly until aromatic. Add the chicken cubes. Stir-fry for 2–3 minutes, then add the hot bean sauce. Stir-fry until the chicken changes color and is nearly cooked through.
Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch and water and add to the middle of the wok, stirring vigorously to thicken. Add the celery. Mix everything through and serve hot.