Bon Bon Chicken Recipe | Chinese Recipes | PBS Food

"Many Chinese dishes are named for sounds, like pao ("firecrackers"), and bon (or bong) for the chopping sound made when preparing the chicken for this dish. Whatever the name, this Sichuan dish is a dish of contrasts: cool cucumbers, tender chicken shreds, and rich, spicy sesame sauce." - Cecilia Chiang

Reprinted with permission from The Seventh Daughter, by Cecilia Chiang, copyright 2007, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


Yield: 4-6 servings



  • 11/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing or dry white wine or vermouth
  • 2 green onions, cut in 2-inch lengths and lightly smashed
  • 6 (1/8-inch-thick) slices fresh ginger, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon whole black, white, or Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 pound English or Japanese cucumbers, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Asian sesame paste
  • 3 tablespoons premium or regular soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinkiang black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil 2 teaspoons chili oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon peeled, minced unpeeled fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish


  1. To poach the chicken: put the breasts in a large saucepan with water to cover by 2 inches. Add the wine, green onions, ginger, and peppercorns. Increase heat to high; as soon as the liquid boils, cover and remove the pan from the heat. Let it sit 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Remove from the broth and pull it into shreds that are about 1/3 inch thick. Strain the broth and use it to thin the dressing, or refrigerate or freeze it for another use.
  2. To prepare the cucumbers: cut them lengthwise into quarters and then crosswise into 2-inch lengths. (The important thing is to make the cucumber pieces about the same size as the shreds of chicken.) Set aside.
  3. To make the dressing: combine the sesame paste, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, chili oil, ground Sichuan pepper, ginger, garlic, sugar, salt, and cilantro by hand
  4. with a whisk or in a food processor. Use immediately, or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  5. To serve, arrange the cucumbers on a platter with the chicken on top. Thin out the dressing with some of the reserved cooking broth or water, if necessary. Pour the dressing over the chicken and garnish with cilantro.
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