Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

I am down in Los Angeles visiting my mother and I want to cook her favorite foods for her and one of them is Chicken with Black Bean Sauce. Actually she likes anything cooked with Black Bean Sauce. Most people I know use the jarred sauce that you can buy at almost any grocery store that has an international section. And although it is pretty good, it is nowhere near as good as using the whole salted black beans themselves. Now you will probably have to buy them at a Chinese grocery store, but if you can't find them, they are available for sale on the internet. They come in a bag and keep in a jar in the refrigerator for a long time. The taste of these salted black beans is so much more savory and complex when cooked than the premixed sauce that it is worth searching them out. But a little bit goes a long way as it is very pungent in large doses! I used Chicken Breasts because my Mom doesn't like the dark meat, but I actually prefer it because it is juicier. You can also use tofu, beef, pork, scallops, a firm white fish, shrimp or clams. I like to use multiple colors of peppers because it is so pretty, but any will do. I served this dish with some Pea Leaf vegetables, another beef and tofu dish and steamed rice. Black Bean Sauce is a classic in Chinese cooking and is amazingly easy to make at home. So try it soon!

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs) cut into1/2” chunks
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoons Shaoshing Rice Wine
1 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons fermented black beans, mashed with 1 Tablespoon Hot Water
1 large garlic clove, minced
1” slice of ginger minced
One half of a red, yellow and green pepper cut into ½ chunks (or 1 1/2 pepper of any color)
1 small red onion cut in ½ pieces
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
½ teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 Tablespoons Peanut Oil

In a small bowl, put in chicken breast, cornstarch, rice wine and soy sauce. In another small bowl, stir together chicken broth, additional soy sauce and sesame oil. Place a wok or large frying pan on the stove on high heat. Add 2 Tablespoons of Peanut Oil and heat until smoking. Put in onion and stir fry until translucent. Then add in garlic, ginger and peppers.

Cook until softened and then put all the vegetables on a plate to the side. Add the additional 1 Tablespoon Oil and heat. Put in chicken and let cook without stirring until it browns slightly. Then turn over and brown the other side. Add black beans and chili flakes and return vegetables to the pan. Add in chicken broth mixture and stir, cooking it until it boils. Pour into a serving bowl and serve with steamed white rice.

Five Element Analysis
Fermented Black Beans are salty (and black) so they belong to the Water Element and so does the soy sauce and sesame oil. The chicken contributes the Wood Element, while the peppers and chili flakes bring in the Fire Element. The onion and rice that you serve it add the Metal Element. But, the Earth Element is missing except for the little bit of cornstarch, so serving another dish made of beef or cabbage or cucumbers would be a good addition to balance out the meal. If you want to make this a one dish meal, then serve it with a sweet fruit dessert instead.

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