Feeding people graciously and lovingly is one of life’s simplest pleasures: a most basic way of making life better for someone at least for awhile. — Anna Thomas
Black bean sauce reminds me of traditional Cantonese home-style cooking. I grew up having a variety of dishes made with black beans and black bean sauce, including fish, clams, chicken, spare ribs; it’s a simple go-to ingredient for a quick stir-fry or a steam. If you’ve never had it before, it’s very pungent, briny, and aromatic. The black beans are really fermented soy beans, giving the sauce a unique intense flavor that kind of jumps in your mouth.
I’ve been experimenting with using black bean sauce in a chicken and bell pepper combination for a few years. You may or may not find this in a restaurant, but to me, it’s an easy and quick comfort food dish that reminds me of home. It’s also best served with freshly steamed rice on the side, which perfectly complements and lightens the intensity of the sauce.
Black Bean Chicken and Peppers Recipe
Preparation Time: Approximately 20 minutes
- 3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken thigh, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon oil, divided
- 3 teaspoons corn starch, divided
- 2 teaspoons water
- 2 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce (e.g., Lee Kum Kee brand)
- 1 stalk scallion, thinly sliced
- Handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Marinate chicken: In a mixing bowl, add soy sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon oil, and 1 teaspoon corn starch into chicken. Stir to combine.
- Prepare quick gravy: Mix remaining corn starch and water; set aside.
- Stir-fry: Heat oil over medium-high to high heat in a pan until oil is nearly steamy. Gently add black bean garlic sauce and quickly stir for 5-10 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry (chow!) for 2 minutes or until halfway cooked. Add peppers and stir until chicken is fully cooked and peppers are crisp tender, about 4 minutes. Add corn starch gravy mixture and cook for an additional minute.
- Garnish with scallions and cilantro. Serve immediately with steamed rice.
- Mixing bowl
- Small bowl
- Wok or sauté pan
- Spatula or wooden spoon
- Wear an apron or something that you don’t mind getting splattered on! The sauce tends to splatter during the stir-fry step.
- You may substitute and/or supplement bell peppers with onions and white button mushrooms.
- I don’t recommend using more than the 3/4 pounds of chicken in one batch. The more chicken in the wok, the less smoky wok flavor it gives off. The same concept applies when pan-searing meats; overcrowding is never a good thing!