Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce is a standby dish on both Chinese takeout and restaurant menus. It’s one of the tastiest stir-fries you can make, and if you never or rarely use Chinese fermented black beans, this dish is the perfect introduction! 

The Magic of Fermented Black Beans

This no-brainer, everyday stir-fry is elevated with the addition of black beans, and the always necessary duo of ginger and garlic. These ingredients are pretty easy to get and pretty cheap to stock your pantry with. Black beans in particular can be purchased from your Asian grocery store at around $2/pound!

Bowl of fermented black beans, thewoksoflife.comBowl of fermented black beans,

They add a delightfully salty, umami (savory) flavor to dishes, and our entire family loves using them not just in this Chicken with Black Bean Sauce, but dishes like Dim Sum Spare Ribs, Beef with Bitter Melon, and Spicy Twice Cooked Potatoes.

Trust us, make a $2 investment in a container of these and try out a few of these dishes to see what you think. Using whole black beans is definitely preferred, but you can also use jarred black bean sauce. Just reduce or eliminate the salt in this dish, as the sauce is quite salty out of the jar.

The Art of Stir-frying

We probably sound like broken records at this point, but stir-fries are awesome. They’re quick, preserve the fresh flavors of the ingredients, and, with the proper high heat, they can make any mundane ingredients taste incredible.

The combinations of ingredients you can use is vast. Don’t eat chicken? Sub in beef. Hate bell peppers? Carrots and celery are also a good pairing. No alcohol allowed? Omit the Shaoxing wine, and replace with some chicken stock or even water. You can make lots of substitutions, and the end result will still be delicious.

The key to a good stir fry is knowing the cooking times for each ingredient. Restaurant chefs usually blanch all the vegetables beforehand (though this isn’t always necessary). Proteins like chicken, pork, beef, and shrimp (and usually eggplant) are seared/fried first to shorten the cooking time. Then, with the help of aromatics and sauce, a tasty dish magically appears in no time! Read more about how to make a proper stir-fry in this other article I’ve written on the subject!

Also, you may have noticed that most of my recipes lack sauce pooling at the bottom of the plate (unlike some of Bill’s dishes, which have plenty of sauce to spoon over bowls of rice.) That’s because I actually prefer to use high heat to cook off most of the liquid, and let the remaining sauce coat the food so it can glisten with its own “essence.”

If you like extra sauce, feel free to whip up a cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water or chicken stock) and add it at the last minute to achieve your preferred consistency!

So…are you ready to try out a new flavor? Choose the protein of your choice, the vegetables that you need to use up in the refrigerator, and make this dish your own. Enjoy!

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce: Recipe Instructions

Combine the chicken and the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and mix until all the liquid is absorbed. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes. For more information and preparing chicken for stir fries, see Bill’s post on Chicken velveting 101.

Pre-heat your wok over high heat, until it starts to smoke. This step is essential, as it prevents the chicken from sticking to the wok. Read more about how this works!

With your spatula, spread 2 tablespoons of oil over the bottom of the wok (this combination of hot wok, cold oil will make . Add the chicken, and quickly spread the pieces into a single layer.

Searing chicken slices in a wok, by thewoksoflife.comSearing chicken slices in a wok, by

Let the chicken cook for about 30 seconds, flip, and cook the other side for another 30 seconds.

Stir-frying chicken, by thewoksoflife.comStir-frying chicken, by

The chicken is done once it turns opaque––be careful not to overcook it. Turn off the heat, transfer the chicken to a dish, and set aside.

Stir-fried chicken slices set aside, by thewoksoflife.comStir-fried chicken slices set aside, by

Next, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok over medium heat. Add the ginger, and let it cook for 15 seconds. Next, add the garlic…

ginger and garlic in wok, thewoksoflife.comginger and garlic in wok,

The white parts of the scallions, and the fermented black beans. Stir for another 30 seconds. Now turn up the heat to high. Add the green and red peppers, and stir fry for about a minute.

Peppers and scallions in wok, by thewoksoflife.comPeppers and scallions in wok, by

Add the sugar, Shaoxing wine, salt, the chicken, 2 tablespoons of water, and the green parts of the scallion.

Adding chicken to stir-fry, by thewoksoflife.comAdding chicken to stir-fry, by

Quickly stir-fry everything well to coat in the sauce, and plate!

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce, by thewoksoflife.comChicken with Black Bean Sauce, by

Serve this chicken with black bean sauce with steamed rice. 🙂

Chopsticks picking up a piece of chicken with black bean sauce, thewoksoflife.comChopsticks picking up a piece of chicken with black bean sauce,


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