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Even as Maille's tummy was tingling with the spiciness of the Red Braised Chickpeas that he ate at Ren Zilin's restaurant, a dramatic thunder storm broke over Beijing.

Red Braised Chickpeas

With rice wine, star anise and cinnamon

Red braised dishes with their warm aroma of white wine, star anise and cinnamon belong generally to the cooler months of the year. But this chickpeas preparation is such a favourite with Ren Zilin's guests that it stays on her menu all year round. However, as the stove had already been closed and cleaned for the day, secret agent Hektor Maille on a warm evening in Beijing had to eat the chickpeas cold – though, of course, they taste better warm.

Ingredients (for 2 to 4 Personen)

300 g chick peas

2 EL rape seed oil

1 piece ginger of 60 to 70 g, cleaned but unpealed, cut into fine slices

6 whole anise stars

1 stick cinnamon, broken into big pieces  (approx. 5 g)

10 black pepper corns

1 teaspoon sichuan pepper, roasted and finely ground

2 hot red chilies, de-seeded and sliced

1 dl soy sauce

1 dl rice wine Shào Xīng

2 dl water

2 tablespoons sugar

Optional 4 tablespoons Chingkiang rice vinegar


  1. Soak the chickpeas for 12 hours in cold water – and then cook them for about 1½ hours. Or if one has no time to soak them, cook them in bubbling hot water for 2 hours. In both cases the chickpeas should be almost tender, but retain some bite. Strain the water out.
  2. Warm oil in a big dish that can be firmly covered with a lid. Add chickpeas and let them warm up for some minutes.
  3. Add spices (ginger, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns, sichuan pepper and chilis) and cook for a minute. Add soy sauce, rice wine Shào Xīng, water and sugar. Mix everything well, allow to boil, reduce heat, cover pan tightly with lid and allow to braise for one good hour. Stir every quarter of an hour. If the pot cannot be tightly closed, add some water from time to time.
  4. At the end the peas should have soaked in most of the sauce.

You can give this dish extra zing,if you like, by adding about 4 tablespoons of Chingkiang rice vinegar at the end.

More about the travel adventure of Secret Agent Hektor Maille:

While eating the items of this menu on a hot evening in the restaurant of Ren Zilin in central Beijing, Hektor Maille finds out why the dragon trail had failed to yield any results earlier:

First Publication: 6-10-2009

Modifications: 23-1-2011, 18-6-2011, 13-11-2011, 12-12-2011