I knocked on the door of Fuchsia Dunlop’s new digs in East London and was ushered into a spacious kitchen, still stuffed with unopened boxes from her recent move, with a charming view of a matchbox-­size but sunny backyard. I was there for a personal cooking lesson from Dunlop, author of “The Food of Sichuan,” on making bang bang chicken.

The dish—which earned its name for the sound of butchers chopping through the meat—is a descendant of a snack of chicken cooked simply and sauced spicy. And it’s a great example, at least to me, of the essence of Sichuan cooking. Simple ingredients such as tofu and poached chicken are transformed using pantry ingredients that provide immediate built-in flavor, such as vinegar, soy sauce, chili oil and the like. Throw in a few powerhouse fresh ingredients to finish—scallions, ginger, garlic—and the makeover is complete.

For this dish, a whole chicken is gently poached then cooled, while sesame seeds and Sichuan peppercorns are pan-toasted separately; the peppercorns are then ground. For the sauce, we combine either sesame paste or tahini (a perfectly suitable stand-in) with soy, sesame oil, black vinegar, the ground Sichuan peppercorns and a bit of reserved poaching liquid until creamy and smooth. The sauce is drizzled over the shredded chicken, which then is topped with pan-fried peanuts, scallion greens and the toasted sesame seeds.

What begins as a bland chicken salad quickly ends with a bang. That’s the charm and beauty of the cooking of Sichuan.