Stir Fried Chicken in Black Bean Sauce

I have had this one bag of fermented Chinese black beans for, literally, years.  And when I say years, I really do mean years – I probably picked this up a few years after we got married, where it stayed in the cupboard above the stove in our little apartment, and when it came time to move to this house, it came with us in the box marked “Kitchen”.

Hey, they’re fermented.  Fermented means forever.

Chinese black beans are near and dear to my heart.  I grew up smelling my Dad’s stir fried black bean dishes, and to this day I still can’t find a restaurant that makes it like he did.  Those recipes died with him, not that there was ever much to go on since he never wrote anything down.  Stir fried black bean dishes are also what I consider to be the most authentic of Chinese cuisine, because the smell of fermented black beans is welcoming to those who grew up with them and an acquired taste for those who did not.  True ethnic food should make people nervous.

You may have noticed that, even after all these years, I still have about half of the bag of black beans left.  This is due to the fact that each stir fry only needs a couple of tablespoons of black beans, so it’s going to take me a very long time to exhaust my $1.19 worth of Chinese goodness.

The most common dish that I make with these black beans is a classic Stir Fried Chicken in Black Bean Sauce.

1 lb chicken breast, cut into stir fry size pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper

Big Ol’ Mound of Garlic, chopped (like, at least three cloves, if not more)

About 2 Tbs of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 Tbs of fermented Chinese black beans, rinsed, chopped fine

Vegetable Oil

1 cup chicken stock

1 Tbs cornstarch

To be served over rice

First off, make a pot of rice.  So far, so good.

Heat a wok, or a frying pan if you don’t have a wok, over high heat until a drop of water from your finger immediately sizzles and boils away.  Add about 2 tablespoons of oil to the inner wall of the wok, in a circular fashion, letting the oil drip down to the center.

Mix the chopped garlic, ginger, and black beans together and drop all of it into the pan.  Stir fry briefly, about 30 seconds, and keep the garlic moving so that it doesn’t burn.

Add the chicken, spreading it out, and let the chicken cook for about a minute, so that it browns on one side.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir fry the chicken until it is nearly done, about three or four minutes depending on the size of the cuts.

Mix the cornstarch into the chicken stock until blended, then pour the mixture into the wok over the chicken and stir to combine.  Bring the mix to a simmer and let that cook for a few minutes.  The cornstarch will thicken the sauce as it simmers.

Tip the contents of the wok into a serving dish and serve over rice.  If you’ve got some sort of green, like spinach or, even better, bok choy, it would be a nice addition to the wok after you’ve put the chicken in.