Black bean chicken stir fry


This has to be one of my favourite dishes. It’s so fast, incredibly easy and of course tasty. You can make it with thinly sliced beef or tofu (the firm or fried variety) but it always has to be with capsicums or peppers. I’ve never been one for ready-made sauces and am a bit scared to try them thinking that they’re probably filled with weird thickeners and unlikely ingredients. I’ve noticed a lot of recipes on the internet for Chinese black bean dishes that state a store-bought sauce as one of the ingredients. I can’t reconcile this; you may as well follow the instructions on the bottle! The point of a recipe, I feel, is to show you how a dish is made and hopefully dispel some fears about attempting it at home (from scratch). That’s what I aim to do here. This has to be one of the most popular Chinese dishes and it’s so simple to make that you’ll be kicking yourself for all those times you paid for a lacklustre take-away version.

The essential ingredient is the black beans themselves. I’m afraid these can only be found (currently) in Asian grocery stores. You will need to ask for fermented or dried black beans. They usually come in vacuum packs and look distinctly inedible. When I last bought a packet, it cost all of $1.10, so they are affordable to anyone and one packet will probably last you a year (unless you go black bean crazy, which after trying this recipe, is a risk).

4 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp black beans
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sugar
600g chicken breast, sliced thinly
2 red capsicum
1 green capsicum
1 onion
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 cup boiling water

Serves 4

1. Rinse the black beans in cold water. They usually come preserved in salt and it’s necessary to rinse them to remove any excess.

2. Finely chop the garlic and black beans (this can be done together). If you like a bit of spice, then you can add a couple of birdseye chillis at this point and chop everything together.

3. Get everything ready for the stir fry: dice the capsicum into 1-inch pieces, cut the onion in half, then into wedges and slice the chicken.

4. Combine the cornflour and water and stir till there are no lumps.

5. Add the garlic, black bean (and chilli) mix to a cold pan and add the oil. Turn heat to medium hot. When the garlic starts to sizzle add the sugar. Wait until the garlic is golden before adding the chicken.

6. Once the chicken in sealed and opaque add the diced capsicum and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the soy and oyster sauces and the onion.

7. Add the cornflour mix and stir it through. Wait until you can see that the liquid has thickened. At this point you should taste the sauce to test its seasoning. If you prefer more sauce add a little more water. Serve with boiled rice.


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