5 ingredients and 15 minutes are all you need to cook chicken with black bean sauce stir-fry. It’s simple but by no means short on flavor.
For quick and easy Chinese stir-fries, chicken is my favorite protein choice (think Kung Pao Chicken, Chicken Chop Suey, Black Pepper Chicken, and more). Today’s recipe, Chicken with Black Bean Sauce (Chǐ Jiāo Jī Qiú/豉椒鸡球), combines this flavorful meat with a versatile sauce that can make any dish extra tasty.
The key flavors of the dish come from fermented black beans (Dòu Chǐ/豆豉) and a generous use of aromatics like garlic, ginger, and scallions. You can add them individually when cooking this dish. Or, use premade Black Bean Sauce (Dòu Chǐ Jiàng/豆豉酱) which is made with all the above seasonings. I’m introducing the second method in this recipe.
🌟 With a short ingredient list, easy technique, and quick preparation, this dish is perfect for novice home cooks to try for a weekday meal.
Ingredients for the recipe
Apart from cooking oil and a little salt, you only need five ingredients to cook this dish:
- Chicken, skinless and boneless thighs or breasts
- Black bean sauce, the regular or spicy version (Learn more in the next section)
- Fresh chili pepper/bell pepper, or other crunchy vegetables
- Scallions, aka green onion, spring onion
- Cornstarch, or tapioca, potato starch
What is black bean sauce
Black bean sauce is always available in my kitchen, next to other versatile condiments like Chili Oil and Pickled Chili Garlic Sauce. It consists of fermented black beans (made with black soybeans and salt), aromatics (garlic, ginger, scallions, and onions), and a set of essential Chinese seasonings (light soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, five-spice powder, and sesame oil). Its complex, layered flavor elevates the taste of many dishes and it cannot be easily mimicked by other condiments.
Although you can find it in commercial jars, I highly recommend you make it from scratch following my simple recipe for black bean sauce which includes both the regular and spicy versions. Not only does the homemade one taste better, but it is also healthier (with less salt, and no artificial flavorings or preservatives).
Here are the simple steps to make chicken with black bean sauce in 15 minutes.
Step 1: Marinate the chicken
Cut chicken thighs, or breasts, into chunks that can be easily picked up with chopsticks and eaten in one bite.
Put them into a bowl, along with cornstarch, a pinch of salt, and water. Stir very well until the chicken becomes a little sticky (I prefer using a gloved hand to massage the meat).
Finally, mix in a little oil to coat the chicken so that the moisture gets locked in. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
🛎 TIP: This step is to ensure the cooked chicken is as tender and juicy as it can be. This is particularly important when using chicken breasts as they tend to have a rather dry texture if not prepared properly. Also, there is no need to marinate it longer than 10 minutes.
Step 2: Sear the chicken
You can use either a wok or a deep skillet to cook this dish. Heat it empty until smoking hot, then add cooking oil (see tip below).
Put in the marinated chicken pieces and arrange them in a single layer. Sear over high heat until the bottom side turns pale.
Then flip and stir around so that all sides of the chicken lose their pinkness on the surface (They aren’t cooked inside yet). Transfer the chicken out to a plate, leaving any oil in the wok.
🛎 TIP: If you are using cookware with a non-stick coating, make sure you add oil first, then heat it. This is because heating an empty non-stick cookware may cause the coating to deteriorate.
Step 3: Combine the dish
Keep the heat high and pour in a little more oil. Add chopped scallions and chili pepper (or bell pepper). Toss to fry them briefly until the green part of the scallions begin to wilt (the pepper remains crunchy).
Return the chicken to the wok, then add black bean sauce (see tip below). Stir fry for about a minute until the chicken is fully cooked.
🛎 TIP: If you’re using shop-bought black bean sauce, be aware that it is usually saltier than the homemade version. Use half of the quantity suggested in the recipe. At the end, taste and add more if necessary.
Other under 30-minute dishes
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Chicken with Black Bean Sauce (豉椒鸡球)
- 13 oz chicken - skinless, boneless thighs, or breasts
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon neutral cooking oil
- 1½ tablespoon neutral cooking oil - divided
- 3 stalks scallions - cut in sections diagonally
- 2 fresh chili peppers - or 1 bell pepper, cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoon homemade black bean sauce - see note if using shop-bought one
Marinate the chicken
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks then put them into a bowl. Add cornstarch, salt, and water. Mix very well so that the chicken is well coated and becomes sticky.
- Add 1 teaspoon of oil. Stir to distribute evenly. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
Sear the chicken
- Heat an empty wok/skillet over high heat until smoking hot, then pour in 1 tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat a large area (If using cookware with a non-stick coating, add oil first then heat up).
- Add the marinated chicken. Spread it into a single layer and leave it to sear. Once the bottom side turns pale, flip and stir to quickly sear other sides.
- Dish out the chicken as soon as there is no more pinkness to be seen (It is not yet cooked inside at this stage).
Combine the dish
- Add the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil to the wok/skillet. Put in scallions and chili pepper. Stir and toss over high heat for about 30 seconds, or until the scallions start to wilt.
- Put the chicken back in the wok, then add black bean sauce. Stir fry for a further one minute until the chicken is fully cooked.
- Dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice, alone or with other savory dishes.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.