Warning! This dish is spicy. It is not for the faint of heart (or mouth). I am not kidding.
It also makes enough for a crowd, so have lots of very hungry, and very brave friends and family on hand when you make it. Or, you know, just divide everything by two and make less. Your choice.
Many people are familiar with Bang Bang chicken or shrimp dishes, mainly from some very large and trendy Asian-style chain restaurants that serve Westernized versions. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that. I have always enjoyed some Westernized Asian food. But when it comes to creating recipes for you fine folk, I wanted go more authentic.
This dish originates in the Sichuan region of China, and so instead of checking out the latest restaurant knock-off, I studied the food blogs of various Sichuan Chinese home cooks to read up on how it's traditionally made, and determine whether or not it could be successfully ketofied while still maintaining the qualities that make it such popular fare.
So, here it is. Bang Bang Chicken, with no soy, no sugar, or cornstarch.
Notes: One of the things Sichuan cuisine is known for is a particular mouth sensation that can be fairly accurately translated as "numb." They most often get that in their dishes by using Sichuan peppercorns, which are actually a seed from the citrus family and not true peppercorns at all. Regardless of their origin, they produce a distinct kind-of piney and peppery flavor as well as that famous numbing sensation on the lips and tongue.
Unfortunately, they can be a bit hard to find. If you want super authenticity, order some online. Otherwise, the same flavor profile can be simulated by combining whole black peppercorns with whole coriander seeds. I toasted mine briefly in a dry skillet. The idea is to get them just warm enough for their natural oils to be drawn out for maximum flavor potential.
Popular lore is that the name "Bang Bang" refers to the spiciness of the sauce, but from my research it's more likely referring to the stick they would traditionally use to pound the poached chicken into shreds. And because that's how they shred their chicken, that's how I do it here. If you prefer to shred it with two forks, whatevs. Also, feel free to swap in an equal weight of chicken thigh meat instead of breast.