Easy, fail-proof, step-by-step guide to one of the Chinese classic stir-fry dish: chicken and black bean stir fry. And customize it to work with the ingredients you have.
Chinese black bean stir-fry is one of the most classic stir-fry dishes. At its basic, all black bean stir-fry dish will call for fermented black beans, garlic, and red chilies, the rest is up to individual preference.
My recipe for chicken and black bean stir-fry will be a good reference for people who have never prepare a black bean stir-fry dish before.
Once you give this recipe a try, you can customize it to work with what you have in your kitchen. This will work with beef, pork, or fish instead of chicken. You can also use other vegetables suitable for stir-frying instead of bell pepper and celery. You can even make it completely vegetarian by using tofu or even 100% vegetables.
Ingredients for Chinese chicken and black bean stir-fry
First, to marinade the chicken, we will need chicken breast, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, and cornstarch. You can also use chicken meat for an even juicier dish.
For the aromatics, we will need garlic, ginger, onion, and red chilies.
For the seasonings, we will need fermented black beans, dark soy sauce, and chicken stock.
For the vegetables, we will need red bell peppers and celery.
And finally, we will need some thinly sliced scallions for garnish. You can also use chopped fresh cilantro if you wish.
Chinese fermented black beans (豆豉)
Chinese fermented black beans, often simply refer to as black beans, are made from cooked black soybeans fermented in salted water. This process makes the beans soft, dry, and salty.
You can think of fermented black beans as a super intense version of soy sauce, which means, any dish that incoporate these beans will get a huge umami boost.
You don’t need to use a lot these beans in any recipe. A typical four-serving recipe like this one need only about one tablespoon of the fermented beans.
You can buy fermented black beans at your local Asian/Chinese grocery store. They typically come in a plastic packaging for a few dollars.
Substitute for fermented black beans
You can use bottled black bean garlic sauce. This is usually easier to find even in mainstream grocery stores.
Instead of 1 tablespoon of fermented black beans, please use 2 tablespoons of black bean sauce. The rest of the recipe stays the same.
Step-by-step guide to cooking the dish
1. Marinade the chicken
Combine chicken with cornstarch, light soy sauce, sesame oil, and Shaoxing in a mixing bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes.
2. Cooking the dish
Heat oil in a wok on medium-high heat, sauté onion and red chilies, cook until onion starts to wilt.
Add chicken, spread evenly into a layer and let it cook undisturbed for 1 minute. Then stir and cook for another minute.
Add garlic, ginger, fermented black soy bean, and dark soy sauce. Mix well. Cook for 30 seconds.
Add red bell peppers, celery, and chicken stock. Mix well. Cover the wok and let it cook for 2 minutes.
Turn off heat. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions and serve immediately with some steamed white rice.
If you want to cook a vegetarian black bean stir-fry dish, please do the following substitutions: use 1 lb (450 gram) block of firm/extra-firm tofu instead of chicken, and use vegetarian stock instead of chicken stock. Keep everything else the same.
For a better tofu dish, I always fry the tofu first until they develop a crispy skin. You can skip it if you don’t want the hassle. You can also buy pre-fried tofu cubes from most Asian/Chinese grocery stores if you don’t want to fry the tofu but prefer using fried tofu in your dish.
Chicken and Black Bean Stir-Fry
- 500 gram skinless boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoon light soy sauce (Note 1)
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (Note 2)
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 8-10 dried red chilies
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon fermented black beans, soaked in water until fluffy, drained (Note 3)
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1-2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally, about 1/2 inch thick slices
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup chicken stock
- salt, to taste
- 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
- Marinade the chicken: Combine chicken with cornstarch, light soy sauce, sesame oil, and Shaoxing in a mixing bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes.
- Cooking the dish: Heat oil in a wok on medium-high heat, sauté onion and red chilies, cook until onion starts to wilt.
- Add chicken, spread evenly into a layer and let it cook undisturbed for 1 minute. Then stir and cook for another minute.
- Add garlic, ginger, fermented black soy bean, and dark soy sauce. Mix well. Cook for 30 seconds.
- Add celery, bell pepper, and chicken stock. Mix well. Cover the wok and let it cook for 2 minutes.
- Open the lid and add salt as needed.
- Turn off heat. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions and serve immediately with some steamed white rice.
- (1) Substitute with regular soy sauce, such as Kikkoman.
- (2) Substitute with other rice wine, such as mijiu (米酒) or Japanese sake.
- (3) Substitute with 2 tablespoon black bean sauce.