Difference between Hunan Chicken and Szechuan Chicken

By: | Updated: Nov-18, 2017
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Chinese dishes are popular throughout the world. It seems like in every country, you will find a restaurant serving the colorful and savory meals that the Chinese people are known for. Included in the list would be Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken. Both are delicious and spicy chicken dishes. However, they also differ in certain ways. Continue reading this article and you’ll discover what differentiates them.

Summary Table

Hunan Chicken Szechuan Chicken
Dish that originated from the Xiang River region, Dongting Lake, and the Western Hunan Province Dish that originated from the Sichuan province in Southwestern China
Is a spicier and more oily dish but has a pure and simple taste It is a sweet and spicy dish, having a more flavorful taste
Vegetables are stir-fried first, then the rest of the ingredients, including marinated chicken, are added on low heat Battered chicken is fried, then vegetables are pan-fried and then all the ingredients are combined and stir-fried


Hunan chicken
A plate of Hunan chicken

The Hunan chicken dish is part of what is known as Xiang cuisine. This type of cuisine originated from the Xiang River region, Dongting Lake, and the Western Hunan Province. Though coming from different regions, what binds them all together is the use of “mala” which is a hot, tongue-numbing spice. Hunan chicken, much like other Hunan cuisine, tends to have a pure and simple taste. It is also prominent for being spicy and oily. Hot and spicy dishes like Hunan chicken is considered ideal for staying warm during the winter season.

The ingredients for this dish, apart from the bite-size chicken meat, include shredded ginger, chili peppers, scallions, shallots, chicken broth, cornstarch, light soy sauce, sherry, wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and powdered anise pepper. The chicken is first marinated in a soy sauce, sherry, and ginger mixture. Then, the rest of the liquid ingredients are mixed in a separate container. After the initial preparations, the vegetables are stir-fried for a few minutes and then the rest of the ingredients are added while being cooked over low heat. You’ll know the dish is done when the chicken is tender. Hunan chicken is best paired with rice.

Szechuan chicken
Szechuan chicken in a wok

The Szechuan chicken dish is part of Szechuan cuisine, which originated from the Sichuan Province in Southwestern China. This particular region is known for its bold, spicy flavors, especially the unique flavor of the Sichuan peppercorn. This particular spice has an intensely fragrant, citrus-like taste, which gives off a tingling and numbing sensation in the mouth. Szechuan chicken, like most of the Szechuan cuisine, renders a good mix of sweet-spicy and flavorful taste.

The ingredients for Szechuan chicken includes boneless skinless chicken breasts, cornstarch, egg whites, dry sherry, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, minced garlic, carrot strips, sliced red bell peppers, chopped green onions, vegetable oil, chili paste, cayenne pepper, and crushed red chilies. The dish is cooked by first frying the battered chicken, then the vegetables are pan-fried. Afterwards, all the ingredients are combined with the sauce. Szechuan chicken is easy to cook and is best served with steamed rice.

Hunan Chicken vs Szechuan Chicken

What is the difference between Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken? Hunan chicken is a dish which originated from the Xiang River region, Dongting Lake, and the Western Hunan province while Szechuan chicken originated from the Sichuan province in Southwestern China. In terms of flavor, Hunan chicken is a spicier and oilier dish but it has a more pure and simple taste. Conversely, Szechuan chicken is noted to have a sweet-spicy and more flavorful taste. Preparing Hunan chicken involves stir-frying the vegetables first then adding the marinated chicken and the other ingredients afterward on low heat. Szechuan chicken, on the other hand, starts with frying the battered chicken and then pan-frying the vegetables. Soon after, the rest of the ingredients are combined and stir-fried.

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