If you’re wondering why there have been dragons roaming Chinatown all week, let me lay it out for you: it’s Chinese New Year. Also known as Lunar New Year, the 15 day celebration signifies the end of Winter and beginning of Spring. At Panda Express, Chinese New Year means one thing: the return of Firecracker Chicken.
Now, before this year, I had never heard of Firecracker Chicken. Asian food is not part of my regular diet, so I don’t frequent Panda Express. When Eick mentioned they had a coupon on their website to try Firecracker Chicken for free on the first day of Chinese New Year I was skeptical for that reason. That and I don’t generally eat many hot foods. Just the name of it made me cringe. But I figured there was no better way to celebrate the year of the dragon than with a mouthful of fire, so I went to my local Panda to get some free food.
The coupon was for a single serving, which is usually about $2. It seemed like a pretty small box, but it was a decent amount of chicken, especially for free. Firecracker Chicken is described as “tender marinated chicken breast, crisp red and yellow bell peppers and succulent onions … in a zesty firecracker sauce.” It also had a few black beans, and a dried chili pepper.
The verdict: this stuff is good. The chicken is nice and juicy, and is complemented well by the firecracker sauce. Chili powder definitely comes through in the sauce, which has a good amount of heat. The bell peppers and onions made it look nice and colorful but didn’t add much in the way of flavor. I was too much of a wimp to go near the dried pepper. This dish is really all about the chicken. As for the mouthful of fire, it wasn’t as hot as I expected. It’s hot, but it didn’t burn my mouth or lead me to drink an entire glass of water in one gulp. It was more of a tingling tongue than anything.
I recommend you mosey on down to Panda Express today, because as soon as the Chinese New Year celebration is over, so is Firecracker Chicken. That means February 6, by the way. Another option is to make it yourself. It’s a pretty simple recipe, which can be found here.
Gung hay fat choy!