This 20-Minute String Bean Chicken Stir-fry is another weeknight staple from me, The Woks of Life’s resident lazy weeknight cook.
A Quick and Easy Dish
It’s no secret that I love recipes that can be made in 20 minutes or less. The fewer ingredients you need and the less time spent at the stove, the better.
While I do love taking the time to cook an elaborate, high-effort sort of meal on weekends and for special occasions, on regular weeknights, I’m looking to do a lot less cooking and a lot more relaxing (read: sweatpants and TV).
But along with the soothing voice of Sir David Attenborough narrating some intense nature drama on Planet Earth or the latest food-related Netflix documentary, I want in my hands something hot, tasty, and balanced (i.e. protein and vegetable, all in one).
This String Bean Chicken Stir-fry, whipped up in 20 minutes or less, fits the bill perfectly.
A Note on the Recipe
This recipe emulates the Chicken with String Beans you may get at your local takeout restaurant.
For me, a good string bean chicken stir-fry has plenty of dark brown sauce to soak into a plate of steamed rice.
The signature dark color of the sauce here can be achieved using dark soy sauce, a thicker, darker soy sauce that, with just a couple teaspoons, can transform a dish from pale to that tantalizing dark amber we all want in our Chinese takeout-style dishes.
Also, you all can rest assured that this Woks of Life resident lazy cook’s recipe was thoroughly vetted by The Woks of Life’s resident Chinese Takeout expert, my dad––ya’ll know him here as Bill. So you know it’s legit.
Ok, let’s talk about how to make this String Bean Chicken Stir-fry.
20-Minute String Bean Chicken Stir-fry: The Recipe
Start by slicing your chicken. Make sure that you’re slicing it against the grain! See those faint horizontal lines in the photo below? That’s the “grain” of the meat.
You want your knife to slice the chicken perpendicular to those lines for the most tender result.
It also helps if the chicken breast is slightly frozen. The semi-solid chicken will be easier for the knife to slide through.
Next, add all the marinade ingredients to the chicken in a bowl, mix well with your hands so the chicken absorbs all the marinade liquid, and set aside.
Prepare the sauce by mixing together ½ cup chicken stock or water, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce, ¼ teaspoon sesame oil, a pinch of freshly ground white pepper, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
When ready to cook, preheat your wok over medium high heat until it’s almost smoking. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the wok. You’ll know it’s hot enough if the oil “shimmers” when it spreads across the wok, like so:
Sear the chicken until it’s just browned. If your wok is as hot as it should be, the chicken should not stick.
Turn off the heat while you transfer the chicken to a separate bowl. Leave any oil/fat in the wok.
Add 2 additional tablespoons oil to the wok, and add the string beans in a single layer. Sear the string beans on one side, about 1 minute.
Stir-fry the beans for 30 seconds, and then add ¼ cup water to the wok. Cover the wok and allow the green beans to steam for 60-90 seconds (still on medium high heat).
Add the garlic and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Spread the Shaoxing wine around the wok to deglaze it, stir-frying for 15 seconds. Then add the sauce mixture and bring it to a simmer.
Add the chicken back to the wok and stir-fry everything together for another 30 seconds.
The cornstarch in the sauce mixture will thicken it. When the sauce is at the consistency you’d like, plate and serve immediately with rice.