Hunan chicken, like most Hunan cuisine is spiked with a spicy mixture, including fresh chili peppers, often along with the seeds and membranes which contain most of the heat. Chilies are common in southern Chinese cuisine because the spice cools the body by stimulating it to release its heat.
A typical recipe for Hunan chicken calls for bite-size chicken to be marinated with soy sauce, sherry and fresh ginger. Scallion and small-cut hot chili peppers are stir fried in a wok for a couple of minutes. Chicken broth and wine vinegar are added. Sugar, salt, powdered anise pepper and cornstarch are stirred in until they dissolve. Then the chicken and marinade are mixed in and cooked over low heat until the chicken becomes tender. The chicken is served over rice because Hunan produces more rice than any other province in China.