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Foraging with Alexis Nikole Nelson.
Sweet and salty, crispy and juicy, spicy and numbing, la zi ji—literally, chicken with chilies–checks all the boxes of Sichuan cuisine. In this version, we use chicken tenders and coat them with cornstarch and egg whites so they fry up with a lightly crisp crust. Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground, flavor the cornstarch coating and a seasoning salt that's sprinkled onto the chicken at the table. To toast the peppercorns, heat them in a small skillet over medium, shaking the pan frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool, then finely grind in a spice grinder. To remove any large, fibrous bits, sift the ground pepper through a mesh strainer. Serve with steamed rice and stir-fried or steamed bok choy, broccoli or green beans.
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