One of the most famous Szechuan style chicken dishes–poached chicken in chili sauce

mouth watering chicken-Saliva Chicken

The Chinese name is “口水鸡” (Kou Shui Ji), so it is sometimes translated into Saliva chicken directly. This name may sound quite weird or uncomfortable. Mouthwatering chicken is a better one. Whenever you get a chance to visit an authentic Szechuan restaurant, order it!!!

The short poaching cooking skill will make the chicken meat super tender and it is also used in Cantonese white cut chicken. After cooking, soak the chicken in iced water can tighten the skin. There are several important tips to make perfect Saliva chicken at home with tender texture and excellent Szechuan style mala flavor.

About the chicken
I would recommend using whole chicken (younger ones around 2 pounds) for this recipe as a whole chicken offers maximum Chicken skin (the best part of this dish).

Clean the chicken and remove feet and head. In a large pot, add chicken, green onion and 3-4 slices of ginger and cooking wine. Then pour enough water to cover the chicken. Bring the content to a boiling with medium fire and continue cooking for around 8 minutes (for longer ones, you may need 10-15 minutes). Turn off the fire, cover the lid and let the chicken stay for around 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken out and soak it with iced water. Turn over several times during the process until the chicken is completely cooled down. Cut chicken into chunks when it is completely cooled down to get smooth edges.

water mouthing chicken step

About the chili oil
Szechuan style chili oil is the soul of this dish. Store-bought ones are good enough!! Additionally, chili oil should be prepared firstly because the color of the red oil will become brighter after hours of resting. I list the ingredient for around 1 cup of oil. However we only need around 4 to 6 tablespoons in this recipe. You can use this chili oil in many other Szechuan style dishes like bon bon chicken, or Szechuan style chicken noodle salad.

If you want to get an authentic Sichuan style chili oil from whole peppers, check this.

water mouthing chicken step2
mouth watering chicken-Saliva Chicken

mouth watering chicken-Saliva Chicken

If you love spicy chicken, check my favorite Chongqing Mala Chicken.

Saliva Chicken-Mouthwatering Chicken

Famous Szechuan style chicken salad--mouthwatering chicken
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Sichuan cuisine
Keyword: chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 1440kcal
Author: Elaine


  • 1 chicken , around 2 pound
  • 4 ginger slices
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tablespoon cooking wine
  • Peanuts , toasted and crushed
  • White sesame seeds , toasted

Chili oil

Other ingredients for the Sauce

  • 4-6 tablespoons Szechuan style chili oil
  • 2 tablespoons black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoon cooking wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves , smashed
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced green onion
  • Minced coriander


Szechuan combined chili oil

  • In a small bowl, mix chili powder, Sichuan peppercorn, five spice powder and sesame seeds.
  • In a pan, add bay leaves, cumin, ginger slices and star anise, pour in around 1 cup of oil and heat until hot over slowest fire (if the spices are overheated, they become bitter). Discard all the spices and leave the oil only.
  • Pour the hot oil directly to the powder mixture in the small bowl. You will smell the strong aroma during the process. Set the Szechuan combined chili oil aside. I highly recommend you making the chili oil in the previous day so there are sometime for the spices mix together. Or if you do not have pepper flakes, check this post introducing how to make chili oil from whole chili peppers.

Prepare the chicken

  • Clean the chicken and remove feet and head. In a large pot, add chicken, green onion and 3-4 slices of ginger and cooking wine. Then pour enough water to cover the chicken. Bring the content to a boiling with medium fire and continue cooking for around 8 minutes (see note 1 for the adjusting of the time needed). Turn off the fire, cover the lid and let the chicken stay for around 20 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, prepare enough iced water. Transfer the chicken out and soak it with iced water. Turn over several times during the process until the chicken is completely cooled down. Cut into chunks and lay in the serving bowl.
  • Mix around 4 to 6 tablespoons of chili oil with other ingredients to prepare the sauce.
  • Toast peanuts and white sesame in pan until aroma and then crush with a rolling pin or crusher.
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with toasted peanuts and white sesame seeds and enjoy!


For larger chicken, lengthen the poach time but no longer than 15 minutes.


Calories: 1440kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 90g | Fat: 110g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Cholesterol: 340mg | Sodium: 963mg | Potassium: 1258mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3660IU | Vitamin C: 11.1mg | Calcium: 190mg | Iron: 9.3mg

mouth watering chicken-Saliva Chicken

Learn Chinese via Chinese Food Menu

Saliva Chicken   口水鸡  kǒu-shuǐ-jī       kǒushuǐ means saliva

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  1. Hi Elaine how are you today? You must be sleeping by now but I’m still reading your site.

    After I read your chicken recipe I remembered seeing a lot of chicken dishes on the menu or even cook books so I’m wondering what are the differences between all these dishes? So next time when I dine I could have more choices to order. 口水雞 、 紅油口水雞 、棒棒雞皮、紅油芝麻雞、芝麻仔雞、 山城面醬蒸雞

    Thank you 🙂

  2. Hi Lin Wen,

    In fact, 口水雞 is 紅油口水雞 since red chili oil is used and the former one is just a short name.
    棒棒雞 is another dish using a sticker to pat the chicken meat and then hand shreded. However the sauce is similar.
    芝麻雞 means sesame oil chicken and 芝麻仔雞 is sesame oil young chicken(usually the whole chicken).THey are not featured Sichuan Dish. Are you talking about 麻油雞 which means chicken salad with sichuan peppercorn oil. Sichuan peppercorn oil is “麻油” in sichuan cuisine.
    As for 山城面醬蒸雞, I do not think we have this name in the 山城 of chongqing but I guess is sspicy teamed chicken with rice powder. I hope this can help.

    1. Hi Elaine,
      first of all I like to thank you for this great Homepage. I tried already the Sichuan Style fish, the kung pao chicken and the BBQ pork dumplings. All delicious.
      One question regarding the saliva chicken: Is this served hot or cold?

      Best regards from Bavaria / Germany,


      1. Hi Erik,
        Saliva chicken is a cold dish. The chicken should be soaked in cold water before serving so the skin will be super smooth.

  3. Thank you I’ve learnt something from you again. As for 棒棒雞 you meant using paper towel to pat dry the chicken and using hand pull method to shred the meat?

    The name of 紅油芝麻雞, 芝麻仔雞 and 山城面醬蒸雞 I copy from the cook book called 川湘菜聖經. I’m at the beginner stage of learning Sichuan cuisine so please don’t be annoyed with me if I have so many questions to ask.

    1. Hi Lin Wen,

      I usually use a rolling pin to pat or beat the chicken meat in order to break the meat fiber. At this time, the meat is half-shredded. Then sperate the meat shreds with hands.

      It’s ok. After I write this blog, I know that some terms are really puzzling. And that’s why I am here.

  4. I want to make this dish for my children who don’t eat chilli or spicy food. Please let me know if you have any ideas how to substitute the spices for something less hot. I love your recipes, thank you.

    1. Hi Eileen,
      In fact, we get another famous non-spicy Chinese poached chicken. You can boil the chicken as recommended in the recipe and then serve with a non-spicy dip for example light soy sauce+ sesame oil+mashed garlic+ chopped green onion and coriander.

  5. Hi Elain! hope all is well
    just another correction on the tittle, the “Salvia” should be saliva as mouthwatering

  6. Hi Elaine, I just found your website and I think it’s great! I just moved to Yongchuan in Chongqing and I am looking for Sichuanese recipes to cook. I think I will try this 口水鸡 next. Do you know a place where I can take cooking classes? I don’t have much experience with Chinese cooking yet and would like to learn. Thank you!

    1. Hi Reid,
      Welcome to my hometown. I was born in Chongqing and you are really a lucky foodie as there are so many yummy dishes. I do not know about the cooking classes. Can you speak Chinese? If yes, you may attend 新东方烹饪. But I really cooking classes is needed for most of the Chinese dishes. Try to learn from people around you especially the older generations. They are talented!

  7. Hi Elaine, under “Other Ingredients for the Sauce,” you list 4-6 tablespoons of Szechuan style chili oil. Is that something I have to buy, or can I make it myself? Can I alter the ingredients for the main sauce to eliminate the need for this additional Szechuan chili oil? Thank you.

    1. Hi Kitri,

      In the recipe ingredients section, just above the other ingredients for the sauce, there is a lists of chili oil. That’s the Szechuan style chili oil used in this recipe. Usually we make the Szechuan chili oil for Saliva chicken.

      You can change the sauce based on your own preference. The chicken meat should be great with other sauces.
      An example will be the oyster sauce used in this recipe.
      Szechuan chili oil is the essential ingredient for Szechuan Saliva Chicken.

  8. I tried the recipe, and the sauce definitely needed more salt. I mixed the chili oils – one that I made myself (it didn’t have time to get spicy) and one from the grocery store, but I still couldn’t get the spiciness I wanted. We had Szechuan fish at a restaurant one night, and the sauce just bites you. What is the trick with the chili oil? I noticed next morning the sauce was even less spicy than the night before.

    1. Hi Olga,
      I list pinch of salt in the ingredient list, as light soy sauce also contains salt itself. But it is ok to increase some salt based on personal taste. There are also group of people on low salt diet.
      The reason why I recommend making the chili oil in the previous day is because the haematochrome in the red pepper need time to release. For a much hotter taste, you can increase the amount of chili powder or change the brand. For example, Korean chili powder is much softer than real Szechuan chili powder. The quality of Szechuan peppercorn is very important too. Long stored Sichuan peppercorn usually lost the aroma and strong taste.
      Szechuan fish is a completely different dish, using different sauce with saliva chicken. I suggest you trying this one with more chili peppers

  9. Hi Elaine,

    Have a quick question about the “combined chili oil” recipe – in the instructions you have sichuan peppercorns in both the dry mix bowl and in the pan you heat with the oil- do we split the peppercorns between the two?


  10. HI Elaine, I make my own regular chili oil with dried Thai peppers, no other ingredients. I assume this will not be the proper oil to use for this dish? Instead I should make the Szechuan style oil, per your recipe?

    I have not used your recipes yet, but will be now that I have found your excellent site!

    1. Hi Joe,
      You can use your own chili oil for this dish but the taste should be influenced slightly because lots of spices are added in Szechuan style oil.