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Aug 8, 2010 01:31 PM

Authentic ancient Chinese recipe for Bourbon Chicken

I was in the Philadelphia airport on Thursday and fate handed me a gift: a guy passing out samples of a Chinese delicacy: Bourbon Chicken. I had always associated Bourbon with that tasty drink from Kentucky, but perhaps a lost ship with cases of the spirit got carried across the Pacific to land in the Orient.

I had some at the local establishment, Asian Chao, asking the elder woman behind the sneeze guard about the secrets of this dish. She ignored me, the young impetuous upstart, as she piled my two item combo with fried rice onto the plate.

The tastes carried me away, far from the B terminal, to the land where I felt like I could fly around, like that chick and the guy in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

My question: Does anyone have an authentic Asian recipe for Bourbon Chicken? Give it up - I don't care if I have to toast 20 spices, buy the finest bourbon, and take 3 days for this dish.. I must have it in its proper, Chinese form.

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  1. Loved the post, but----------- rotsa ruck!

    1. Rest assured the place you sampled and most Chinese mom and pop places probably use the cheapest bourbon available. Off the top of my head it's basically marinated chiken in some bourbon, soy sauce, garlic and ginger.

      1. Unfortunately you've been duped. Bourbon Chicken is a made up dish mainly served in mall food courts. No self-respecting authentic Chinese restaurant that I know of would serve this. But damn if it isn't tasty, right?

        Here is a recipe that I think you find appealing:

        1. I am sure they are calling it Bourbon Chicken to make it sound what they think will be more appetizing - but bourbon is not Chinese at all. The dish most likely is Drunken Chicken and that calls for rice wine. They could be substituting bourbon for rice wine. Here's a recipe:

          1 Reply
          1. re: scoopG

            It tastes nothing like drunken chicken, more like orange chicken or teriyaki with a smoky molasses taste where you'd expect citrus. These restaurants used to tout themselves as Cajun, though nothing ever tasted quite Cajun. Certainly not their eggrolls.

          2. I have a really hard time walking past the cajun/chinese/whatever bourbon chicken stand in any food court. I mean, why does anybody bother to eat at any of the other options? That said, you are not gonna find anything like that in China so looking for an "authentic recipe" won't get you anywhere. Bourbon chicken basically has four flavors: grease, sweet, char, and MSG so this recipe hits all the high points:

            Get some boneless chicken thighs and chop them into 1-inch cubes. Marinate in a mixture of soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, honey, minced ginger, sesame oil, and a bit of cornstarch. And MSG, lots and lots of MSG. You are basically making a watered-down teriyaki with junk ingredients. After about six hours of marination stir-fry in peanut oil in a super-hot wok until the chicken is cooked through and you get some little charred bits on the edges of the chicken. If you don't have a hot burner for the wok, leave the thighs whole before marination and grill them over low heat instead. You need either the hot wok or a flame grill to get that elusive smoky food court flavor. While you are doing this bring the marinade to a simmer to thicken it, season to taste, and pour over the cooked chicken.