Slice the chicken breasts to 1-inch cubes and in a bowl add and mix well with the seasonings from coconut aminos to garlic powder. Set aside in the fridge while you prepare other items.
Prepare the bell pepper, celery, and onion in one bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix and stir-well the black pepper sauce.
In a 10 to 12-inch saute pan, add the avocado oil and preheat over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Test the temperature with a wooden chopstick, if it shows bubbles around the chopstick when inserting it into the oil, the temperature is hot enough. You can also use a thermometer to reach 350F/177C.
In the meantime, lightly coat the chicken with the starch. Toss well.
Add the chicken pieces one-by-one into the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Pan fry the chicken in a single layer without disturbing for about 3 minutes on the first side. Then use a chopstick or tong to cook the flip side for about 2 minutes. Transfer them out to a separate plate.
You should have some oil left in the skillet, if not, add 1 more tablespoon of oil. Saute the pepper, celery, and onion with 2 pinches of salt over medium-high heat for 1 minute.
Return the chicken to the pan and pour-in the black pepper sauce. Toss to coat the sauce over for 1 minute.
Turn off the heat. Transfer the food to a serving plate. Taste and season with more freshly ground black pepper or salt, if desired. Serve hot.
Freshly ground black pepper Ground black pepper in a can won’t do the job for this recipe. The flavor won’t be as intense. I recommend you grind the peppercorns in your own pepper mill. Use ⅔ tsp freshly ground black pepper if you don’t have Sichuan peppercorn powder for this recipe.
Sichuan peppercorn powder (optional) This is my personal touch to make the sauce extra fragrant. Sichuan peppercorn powder is milder in flavor than the whole peppercorns. It adds a nice floral flavor. The powder version is also a good substitute for people who aren’t used to the whole peppercorn flavor. I ordered mine on Amazon. You can definitely skip this ingredient if you don’t have it handy.
Fruit jam (or pitted dates/prunes) A little touch of sweetness to balance the heat and the piney flavor from the peppercorns. The fruit jam also acts as a thickener to round the sauce together. I use St. Dalfour brand apricot, peach, or orange will work well for the sauce. If you are on Whole30, use 2-3 soft and moist pitted dates or prunes and blend them with the rest of ingredients to make a sauce.
Chicken stock I use chicken stock to thin the sauce. If you aren’t on a specific dietary requirement, you can use Chinese shao hsing wine, Taiwanese michu, or Japanese mirin to replace the stock in the same quantity.
Small batch cooking - this recipe is written for 1 lb chicken. If you do a larger batch, I recommend you pan fry the chicken in a separate batch so each piece can crisp up beautifully.