Chicken With Black Bean

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Are you curious about the health benefits of black beans? Black beans are a great source of protein, folate, and fiber. If you want to know more, check below for all the details!

Chicken With Black Bean

Chicken with black bean sauce

A popular and easy stir-fry, chicken and black bean sauce is a great midweek supper.

  • Preparation time
  • less than 30 mins
  • Cooking time
  • 10 to 30 mins
  • Serves
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 red peppers, seeds removed, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 2 red finger chillies, seeded and finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 small chicken breasts skinned and sliced into long strips
  • 4 spring onions cut into 4cm/1-2in slices
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 6 tbsp blackbean sauce from jar
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry (optional)
  • 75ml/3fl oz water
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. Heat the sunflower oil in a large wok or frying pan, add the red onion and pepper and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, chilli and chicken to the onion mixture and cook over a very high heat for about 4 – 6 minutes, or until chicken is sealed and tender.
  3. Add the spring onions to the wok and cook for another minute. Place the cornflour in a small bowl and add the black bean sauce, sherry if using and water. Whisk until well combined. Add the sauce mixture to the wok and allow to thicken slightly.
  4. Serve with boiled or steamed rice.

Chicken With Black Bean Sauce

This article explains how to prepare chicken with black bean sauce, a quick and easy Cantonese-style home-cooked recipe.

I am referring to the fermented black bean (also called douchi, 豆豉), a savory condiment in Cantonese cooking. Like cheese, miso, and kimchi, douchi has a strong, pungent flavor with a punch of umami. You can purchase fermented black bean sauce from most of the Chinese grocery stores.  It is also referred to as  Black Bean Paste and Black Bean & Garlic Sauce.

However, I will start my preparation by making it from scratch to show you the entire process. The best part of making it is you have complete control of the spiciness and saltiness minus the preservative in the store-bought black bean sauce.

Making a large batch and portioning it is worth it as it is stable in the refrigerator for a few months and longer in the freezer.

Chicken with black bean sauce prepared with homemade fermented black bean sauce. You need douchi 豆豉, follow the quick and easy steps.

Chicken with black bean sauce

1. What is fermented black bean (douchi)?

Making the Chinese fermented black bean sauce requires a special ingredient called douchi. Douchi is the direct phonetic translation from the two Chinese characters 豆豉.

So what is douchi? It is fermented black beans, not the fresh black bean, aka turtle beans. 

The fermented black beans have a pungent, sharp, savory taste with a punch of umami.

Douchi is made by using black soybeans. First, the beans are soaked, steamed, dried, and covered with common rush 灯芯草, then inoculated with the mold spore. After three days, soak and dry again. After that, the beans are fermented with salt for a month, then repeatedly dried and steamed a few times to become the douchi we use in cooking.

2. Ingredients to make black bean sauce

How to make black bean sauce? The main ingredient to make black bean sauce is the douchi (fermented black bean). It is available in most large Chinese grocery stores, or you can also get it online from Amazon.

Fermented black beans

Douchi is sold either in jars or in plastic bags.  They are a little sticky and have a strong smell. However, don’t be put off by the smell as it is perfect after pairing with other aromatic and ingredients. You could compare it to some cheese with a strong smell which you prefer not to eat on its own.

Since the black beans are fermented, they are pretty salty and might contain some dirt and sand. Therefore, you need to clean them before using them to prepare the sauce. 

Here are the steps to prep the fermented black beans:
  • First, pour the fermented black beans into a large bowl.
  • Fill the large bowl with water, then have a quick rinse to remove the dirt and sand, if any. It should be a quick rinse of about ten seconds, and immediately remove the black beans by hand and leave the debris and dirt to sink to the bottom.  They have a strong umami taste and are salty. Therefore, do not rinse them for too long, which will wash away the flavor and saltiness.
  • Place the black beans in a colander to drain, transfer them to a tray, spread them into a single layer, and blow-dry under the fan for one hour. Alternatively, you can leave it in the refrigerator overnight.  The purpose is to keep it as dry as possible, as the following step is to toast it over low heat to bring out its flavor.  The beans will break during toasting and flipping if they are too wet.
  • Assuming blow-dry the beans are already quite dry, place them in a wok or a pan and toast over low heat until they are all dried up. This process requires some patience, as the beans can burn if the pan is too hot. Flip and shake the beans in the pan from time to time to ensure all the beans are dried evenly.  You will notice the beans are shiny and wet initially and slowly turning dull. The endpoint is when the douchi is no longer shiny, dull, and light, and aromatic. When it is done, remove and set aside.
  • Toasting the douchi is the secret to making the sauce taste superior.

The aromatics and spices

The aromatics for preparing the black bean sauce are garlic and onion. Besides that, ginger is also used in some recipes, although I did not use it as I felt that the flavor of garlic and onion is already sufficient. 

If you do not have onion, use shallot or the green section of the scallion as the substitute.

These ingredients should be either minced or chopped finely, so they turn fragrant quickly by sauteing them.

I also include two large chilies in the recipe, but it is optional. You can vary the number of chilies according to the level of heat that you prefer.

Some Szechuan-style black bean sauces include Szechuan peppercorns, which renders the tongue-numbing feeling. However, I cook primarily Cantonese-style, so I have excluded it.

Another ingredient I used is the dried mandarin orange peel or chenpi 陈皮. This item is widely used in Cantonese cuisine.  It has a strong aromatic flavor, so a small piece goes a long way. The dried peel must be rehydrated with water first, then scrape away the pith and chop it finely before using it for cooking the sauce.

There are countless ways to make black bean sauce.  For example, I have seen some people add dried shrimp as one of the ingredients. Other recipes include crispy fried garlic. I prefer to leave these ingredients out of the basic black bean sauce recipe since I can add these items while cooking.  The basic black bean sauce, which consists only of essential ingredients, is definitely more versatile.

The seasonings

The seasonings are light soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine, cho hou sauce, and sugar. Most of these are familiar ingredients except cho hou sauce which might be less popular.  It is a sauce popular in Hong Kong famous for making char siu sauce and beef stews. Fortunately, it is not an essential ingredient and can be omitted or substituted with Hoisin sauce.

3. How to prepare the black bean sauce

The preparation is relatively straightforward once you get all the ingredients ready. Therefore, you may consider double or triple the amount and keep the extra in the refrigerator since you can use it to prepare other dishes apart from the chicken with black bean sauce.

Here are the steps:
  • Place five tablespoons of vegetable oil in the wok. Heat the oil over medium heat, then saute the chopped onion for one minute, followed by the minced garlic for another minute. I saute the onion before adding the garlic because garlic is dryer which means it takes less time than onion to turn color. I use quite a lot of oil as it will be part of the oil for stir-frying or cooking other dishes. It also helps to preserve the sauce as the oil tends to prevent oxidation.  This method of preparing the sauce is also used to make the XO sauce, an expensive Cantonese sauce commonly used in banquet-style Cantonese dishes, particularly during the festive season.
  • Next, add the chopped chilies when the garlic starts to turn aromatic. 
  • The following step is to season it with cho hou sauce, sugar, light soy sauce, and oyster sauce.  I do not use dark soy sauce since the color of fermented black beans is black, which means the sauce has no impact on its color.  In addition, dark soy sauce does not contribute much flavor.
  • Return the toasted black beans to the wok. Give it a good mix, then add some Shaoxing wine, chenpi, and just enough water to cover the beans. Simmer over medium heat to soften the beans for about five minutes or until the water has evaporated.  

The fermented black bean sauce is ready.

Note:

  • The black beans in the sauce are still largely as a whole but are pretty soft.  You can mash the beans if you want to marinate meat or want them to melt into a dish.
  • The amount of black bean sauce required for each recipe depends on the intensity of the flavor you want. There is no fixed amount, but I will generally use 1.5 tbsp for every 100g of meat or vegetables.

4. How to use Chinese black bean sauce

Chinese black bean sauce goes well with almost any ingredients and cooking method. You can use it for stir-frying, steaming, and baking. The chicken in black bean sauce recipe below is prepared with this sauce with some simple vegetables. Besides that, stir-fry with eggplants and tofu, steamed pork ribs, and whole steamed fish are popular dishes regularly cooked in typical Cantonese families.  It is also excellent to use it on fried rice and noodles.

5. Storage

It is worth making a large batch and keeping it in separate containers since black bean sauce is ideal for cooking almost everything. If you use sterile bottles (boil the glass bottle in water to kill the germs before use), the sauce is stable for several months when refrigerated. You can freeze it if you intend to keep it longer.

6. Recipe: Chicken with black bean sauce

Here is an example of how to use it to prepare a quick and easy dish. This chicken and black bean sauce dish can be completed within twenty minutes (minus the marinating time), assuming you have made the sauce in advance.

  • Prepare 500g of chicken breast or chicken thigh fillet, cut them into one-inch lengths.
  • Marinate the meat with two tbsp of the homemade black bean sauce, 1 tsp of light soy sauce, half tsp of sesame oil, some black pepper, and 2 tsp of cornstarch for half an hour.
  • Cut one medium-sized onion, one red bell pepper, and one green bell pepper into wedges, about the same size as the chicken fillet.
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in the wok, stir-fry the onion wedges for two minutes until they start to turn color, then add the bell peppers and stir-fry for another minute. Remove from wok.
  • Put the marinated chicken in the wok, stir-fry over medium heat until cooked. Then add 3 tbsp of the black bean paste. Turn up the heat, and return the vegetables to the wok to have a few quick stirs and flips. Serve.

Health Benefits Of Black Beans

  1. Black beans are rich in a certain mineral you may not be familiar with but should be…

Molybdenum. Legumes are reportedly the food group that has the highest amount of molybdenum. This mineral’s actions are mainly in the production of enzymes, proteins that trigger chemical reactions in the body. These enzymes are involved in uric acid formation, transportation of iron, carbohydrate metabolism and sulfite detoxification. This essential mineral is a trace element mainly found in the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, bones and skin, but it exists in all body tissues. The body eliminates it in bile, urine and stool.

2. Black beans are rich in resistant starch, and this may be a very good thing.

Resistant starch is a type of dietary fiber that is essentially resistant to digestion. Resistant starch passes through the upper digestive tract without being broken down. Since the starch is not broken down, it is not converted into simple sugars. This may prevent the blood sugar level from rapidly rising and also may improve insulin sensitivity, which is great for diabetics. It may help you feel fuller for a longer period of time and, overall, improve digestion. In the lower digestive tract, resistant starch may be broken down by bacteria once it reaches the large intestine. This fuels cells in the intestine and produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

“In the last few decades, it became apparent that SCFAs might play a key role in the prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome, bowel disorders, and certain types of cancer,” according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH). “In clinical studies SCFA administration positively influenced the treatment of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and antibiotic-associated diarrhea.”

3. Black beans are a good source of prebiotics.

You have likely heard of probiotics and how important they are for gut health, but have you heard of prebiotics? Prebiotics are the food source for probiotics, so without them we would have a hard time maintaining a healthy, balanced gut.

4. Black beans are heart friendly and anticancer.

Black beans contain plant compounds called flavonoids, which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Reducing inflammation is key in protecting yourself from heart disease and every type of cancer.

5. Black beans are also rich in soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber absorbs water, turns to a gel-like material and passes more easily through the digestive tract than insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber may help prevent heart disease by balancing unhealthy cholesterol levels.

An added benefit of soluble fiber is it may help reduce belly (visceral) fat, one of the most dangerous types of fat. A 2011 study found evidence showing that a 10-gram increase in soluble fiber per day decreased visceral fat by nearly 4% over the course of five years.

Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping your belly in check may also help reduce heart disease and certain cancers.

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