This spicy pine nut chicken is the perfect combination of savory and spicy. The secret is to switch up the heat with three different chiles.
So, I do not do heat well. In fact, family and friends always warn others to not let me be the one that determines if a dish is too spicy. I would like to say they are wrong, but admittedly, I cannot handle spicy dishes well. I have, however, found if I add a variety of peppers, chiles, or powders I can create spicy dishes that do not overwhelm us less adventurous “chiliphile”.
For this spicy pine nut chicken, I added three levels of heat: Gochujang (a Korean chili sauce), sriracha, and dried red chiles. Sriracha sauce and chili sauce are both savory, spicy condiments made from a blend of chili peppers, garlic, and vinegar. Sriracha sauce is typically sweeter than chili sauce, and also has a more pronounced garlic flavor which mellows out the punch of the gochujang.
I really like cooking with gochujang but it is not necessary. You can easily substitute it with your favorite chili sauce. Be sure to stick with a chili sauce, not a hot sauce, to complement the other ingredients in the recipe.
Spicy Pine Nut Chicken
- 1 pound boneless skinless, chicken breasts, or thighs, cut into 1” pieces
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup oil
- 2 shallots sliced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1/3 cup chopped scallions/green onions separate the whites from the greens
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 1/4 cup pine nuts optional
Red Chile Sauce:
- 4 – 5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 – 3 tablespoons gochujang adjust for heat levels
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 – 2 whole dried red chiles see note.
- Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes. Toss each piece with cornstarch. Set aside.
- Preheat a non-stick skillet with oil. Cook each chicken piece until all the sides are golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan. Leave about 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan for cooking.
- In a separate dish, combine all the ingredients for your sauce together.
- Add the shallots and garlic to the skillet and sauté in the oil until browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add the white part of the scallions and the grated ginger and sauté for 2-3 more minutes.
- Add the sauce ingredients and whisk together. Taste the sauce for heat. If you like it spicy add 1 – 2 more tablespoons of chili sauce or cut the dried red chilies in half to release the seeds.
- Add the chicken back to the skillet and toss to coat each piece. Let simmer for 1 – 2 minutes to allow the chicken to absorb the flavors.
- Remove from heat and fold in the green parts of the scallions and the pine nuts, if using. Serve immediately.