With roots in Chinese cuisine and beloved by food enthusiasts around the world, chicken in black bean sauce is a dish that harmoniously blends tender chicken pieces with the rich umami of fermented black beans, creating a symphony of taste and texture that's nothing short of extraordinary.
In this gastronomic exploration, we delve into the art of crafting the perfect Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, a tasty dish worth learning how to make.
What is Black Bean Sauce?
Black bean sauce is a savory and aromatic condiment commonly used in Asian cuisine, particularly Chinese and Southeast Asian cooking. It's made from fermented black soybeans, also known as salted black beans or douchi. These beans undergo a fermentation process that imparts a rich, salty, and slightly tangy flavor to the sauce.
How to Ferment Black Beans
Fermenting black beans is the first step in making black bean sauce. To make fermented black beans, you'll need to follow a traditional process that enhances the flavor and transforms the texture of the beans. Here's a basic guide on how to ferment black beans at home:
- Dried black soybeans
- Glass or ceramic container with a tight-fitting lid
- Cheesecloth or clean cloth
- A weight (like a small plate or a clean stone)
- Select and Clean the Beans: Choose good-quality dried black soybeans. Remove any debris, stones, or damaged beans. Rinse the beans thoroughly under cold water to remove dust and dirt.
- Soak the Beans: Place the cleaned beans in a bowl and cover them with cold water. Allow them to soak for about 8 to 12 hours, or overnight. This softens the beans and initiates the fermentation process.
- Cook the Beans: Drain the soaked beans and transfer them to a pot. Add enough water to cover the beans and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the beans simmer until they are tender. This usually takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Drain and Dry: Drain the cooked beans and spread them out on a clean cloth or paper towels. Allow them to air dry for a few hours. You want the beans to be mostly dry before proceeding.
- Salt and Ferment: Place the dried beans in the glass or ceramic container. Add salt to the beans, using about 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt for every cup of beans. Mix the salt into the beans thoroughly. You can also add optional seasonings like chopped garlic or ginger if desired.
- Press and Cover: Use the weight (plate or stone) to press down on the beans. This helps release excess moisture and create a uniform layer. Cover the container with a clean cloth, then secure it with the lid. The cloth allows for airflow while keeping out dust and debris.
- Fermentation: Place the container in a cool, dark place with consistent room temperature, ideally around 68-77°F (20-25°C). Allow the beans to ferment for about 1 to 2 weeks. During this time, the beans will develop a strong aroma and flavor.
- Check and Taste: Check the beans occasionally during the fermentation process. Taste a small amount to gauge the level of fermentation. The beans should be salty and have a distinctive, slightly pungent flavor.
Ingredients you need to make Chicken in Black Bean Sauce.
To make Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, you'll need a variety of ingredients to create a flavorful and aromatic dish. Here's a list of the basic ingredients:
For the Chicken Marinade:
- 1 pound (450g) boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons fermented black beans (salted black beans), rinsed and minced
- 2 tablespoons black bean sauce (store-bought or homemade)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
For the Stir-Fry:
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil (such as vegetable or peanut oil)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 bell pepper, sliced (any color you prefer)
- Other vegetables of your choice (like broccoli, snow peas, or carrots)
- Optional: chili peppers for heat
- Steamed rice for serving
How to Make Chicken With Black Bean Sauce
- Marinate the Chicken: For black bean sauce chicken is very vital in bringing out the dish's flavor so ensure the chicken is well marinated. In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients. The thinly sliced chicken with soy sauce, Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry), and cornstarch. Mix well and let the chicken marinate for about 15-20 minutes.
- Prepare the Bean Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the minced fermented black beans, black bean sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, and chicken stock (or water). Mix until well combined and set aside the sauce mixture.
- Heat the Pan: Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat the pan.
- Stir-Fry the Aromatics: Add the minced garlic and ginger to the hot oil. Stir-fry for a brief moment until fragrant, being careful not to burn them.
- Cook the Chicken: Add the marinated chicken to the wok. Stir-fry until the chicken is no longer pink and is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the wok and set it aside.
- Stir-Fry the Vegetables: In the same wok, add a bit more oil if needed. Add the sliced onion and bell pepper (and any other vegetables you're using). Stir-fry until the vegetables are slightly tender yet still crisp.
- Combine Chicken and Vegetables: Return the cooked chicken to the wok with the vegetables. Mix everything together to combine.
- Add the Sauce: Give the prepared sauce a quick stir and then pour it over the chicken and vegetables. Stir-fry everything together for a couple of minutes, this ensures the dish is fully cooked and allows the sauce to coat all the ingredients evenly.
- Adjust the Flavor: Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning if needed. If you prefer more heat, you can add some sliced chili peppers at this stage.
- Garnish and Serve: Once everything is well combined and heated through, turn off the heat. Garnish with sliced green onions, spring onions and toasted sesame seeds if desired.
- Serve: There you have it, your homemade black bean sauce and chicken. Serve the juicy Chicken with Black Bean Sauce over steamed white rice.
How to Keep the Chicken Juicy and Tender
Here are some tips to ensure your chicken stays moist and tender:
- Use the Right Chicken: Opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs. Thighs tend to be more forgiving as they have slightly more fat, which helps keep them moist during cooking.
- Marination: Marinating the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry), and cornstarch helps tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor. Aim to marinate for at least 15-20 minutes before cooking.
- Velveting Technique: To further enhance tenderness in your chicken, you can use a technique called "velveting." This involves briefly blanching the marinated chicken in boiling water or oil before stir-frying. It helps create a protective layer around the chicken and prevents overcooking.
- Stir-Fry Quickly: Stir-fry the chicken over high heat for a short amount of time. High heat allows for quick cooking and seals in the juices. Overcooking can lead to dry chicken.
- Remove at the Right Time: Chicken continues to cook even after being removed from the heat due to residual heat. Therefore, it's a good practice to remove the chicken from the wok or skillet slightly before it's fully cooked. The carryover cooking will ensure the chicken reaches the desired doneness without becoming overcooked and dry.
Stir Fry Cooking Tips
Here are some tips to help you achieve the best results as you go about your stir-fries:
- Preparation is Key: Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. Stir-frying is a quick process, and you won't have much time to chop or measure ingredients once the cooking begins.
- Thin Slices for Even Cooking: Slice the chicken into thin, even pieces. This ensures that the chicken cooks quickly and evenly, preventing overcooking or undercooking.
- Marinate for Flavor and Tenderness: Marinate the chicken with soy sauce, Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, and a bit of cornstarch. This not only adds flavor but also tenderizes the meat.
- Use High Heat: Stir-frying is done over high heat. Make sure your wok or pan is very hot before you add any ingredients. This helps achieve that characteristic "wok hei" flavor and prevents ingredients from becoming soggy.
- Cook in Batches: If you're cooking a large amount of chicken, it's better to cook it in batches. Overcrowding the pan will lead to steaming rather than stir-frying, resulting in less-than-desirable texture.
Nutritional Information of Chicken with Black Bean Sauce
The nutritional value of Chicken with Black Bean Sauce can vary based on factors such as portion size, specific ingredients used, and cooking methods. Below is a general overview of the nutritional content you might expect from a typical serving of Chicken with Black Bean Sauce. Keep in mind that these values are approximate and can vary based on the recipe and specific ingredients used:
Nutritional Values for a Serving (approximately 1 cup):
- Calories: Around 250-350 calories
- Protein: Approximately 25-30 grams
- Carbohydrates: About 15-25 grams
- Dietary Fiber: Around 2-4 grams
- Total Fat: Approximately 10-15 grams
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How long does it take to make Chicken in Black Bean Sauce?
The preparation time for Chicken in Black Bean Sauce can take around 25-35 minutes.
How long can this Black Bean Sauce recipe be stored?
Homemade black bean chicken can generally last for about 1 to 2 weeks when refrigerated. If you want to extend the shelf life, you can also freeze the black bean sauce. Pour the sauce into an ice cube tray or freezer-safe container, and freeze it. Properly stored, it can last for up to two months in the freezer. Thaw it in the refrigerator before use.
Chicken in Black Bean Sauce opens the doors to a world of culinary delight. From the harmonious marriage of tender chicken slices and the distinctive umami of fermented black bean to the sizzle of the wok and the aroma that fills your kitchen, this dish encapsulates the essence of Asian cuisine's complexity and richness. If you're looking for a place to buy black beans and other quality groceries why not try our African Grocery Store?