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. Hello!
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes with us. I’ve been a visitor for a few years now! This recipe was delicious, but it definitely took way more than 35 mins to complete. Perhaps closer to 1-1.5 hours and I had help too. In total I spent 3 hours, also because I had to make hainan chicken rice with that chicken water!!

    1. Hi Jeff,
      It is really quite hard for me to give an accurate serving size. Because we usually have a large round table with several dishes serve together. But I think it should be quite good for two people.

  2. This recipe is confusingly written.

    I bought Sichuan chili oil and also the rest of the ingredients to make the oil. And now it is clear from the comments that that was redundant. The combined chili oil says to add one cup of oil but it doesn’t specify what type of oil. You should clarify this.

    1. Hi Swanson,
      Any vegetable oil can be used to make a Sichuan chili oil include peanut oil, canola oil. We need to make the chili oil firstly before making a saliva chicken.

  3. Hi Elaine

    I am a novice cook, trying to learn how to cook. I notice the ingredients for chili oil has cumin but in the instruction you did not state where to put the cumin. Please help. Thank you

  4. There is no salt in the recipe
    None added while poaching the chicken
    Or any apart from a pinch in the sauce
    Are we supposed to add based on our own judgement ?
    Or there is no salt in the recipe
    Is that an error

    1. I listed a pinch of salt in the sauce, which means you need to slightly adjust the salt accordingly based on your own preference. Since there are soy sauce contained, salt amount can be quite different based on the saltiness of soy sauce. But I would love to recommend starting from 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Even if you feel the final dish is not salty enough, you can re-load the dish with extra salt. Just remember to mix well before serving.

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Elaine,

    I made this today, and it was one of the nicest things I’ve ever cooked. The sauce is really delicious, and the poached chicken was lovely and tender. I can’t wait to try more recipes from your website (I’ve also made the spicy peanuts, which were great too).



    1. Good job! Nathan. You made the perfect saliva chicken. All of my spicy recipes are from my hometown. I am familiar with them from childhood. So there are the 100% reliable ones.
      Thanks for the comment and happy cooking!

  6. 5 stars
    Love, love, love your Sichian recipes. I had tried several. Saliva Chicken, Pork Stir-fry with Green Chilli, Potato Salad, Chilli Oil and they all turned out as good as the ones I had at Sichuan restaurant.

    1. Sukhipanna,
      Thanks for this lovely comment. It really make me a nice beginning in the day. Happy cooking!

  7. Hi,

    I’ve tried this a couple of times and the key step that I’m not sure I’m getting right is how long I should heat the oil up for. You say not to overheat as it will cause the spices to go bitter. The first time I did the recipe I think I was over-cautious and when I poured the “hot” oil into powder mixture, nothing happened – no sizzle, no “reaction”, just like pouring cold oil in. The second time I did it, I waiting until the ingredients in the pot were sizzling for a while and then poured into the powder mixture – that time it did sizzle and react, but then I thought the taste seemed a little burnt.

    So do you have any tips as to when its the right time to take the oil off the heat? Thanks for a great recipe otherwise!

    1. KL,
      That’a s really good question. I did not notice that one because I just test a very small amount of oil at the beginning (by adding only around 1 or 2 teaspoon of oil). If no sizzling happens, continue heating the oil for couple of minutes. If it is too hot and the pepper turns too dark, wait for around 1 or 2 minutes.

      Another tip is to heat the oil until almost smoky and then wait for 2 minutes at room temperature. But I believe the first tip might be more helpful since it is more flexible.

      1. 5 stars
        Hi Elaine,

        Yesterday I tried the 口水鸡 for the first time – after eating it for many many years: ) – and it worked out perfectly! Thanks for sharing the recipe! Just one point: your description of how to make the oil is a little bit confusing. I put all oil ingredients together and then realized that only some of them should be heated in the pan. So I poured the cold oil in the ingredients, mixed it well and afterward heated it up. It did work out too though. After reading the comments section it became more clear. Next time I will do it as you described it. Thanks again!

        1. Thanks Florian for your feedback. I have re-edited the post and introduced a more authentic way of making chili oil.

  8. 5 stars
    Another winner of a recipe. This poaching technique yields unusually tender, flavorful results every time. I had never tried the Szechuan variation before. Everyone enjoyed it.