Fermented black beans are one of the most difficult ingredients to find in an Asian market. Not because they often don’t carry them – they are a common ingredient in Chinese cooking – but because they can be located in a number of different sections. We’ve seen them with the dried mushrooms, condiments, regular dried beans or in the bins of random bags of dried just about everything. Luckily they come in a fairly large bag, they are cheap and you don’t use many at any one time.
For those who like that salty fermented flavor found in soy sauce, miso and other such products they are definitely worth the search and once you try them you too will be hooked. Note that the fermented beans are soft and can be easily mashed unlike regular dried black beans.
While you’re at the Asian market pick up some Shao Xing wine, also called yellow wine. It may be an acquired taste when drunk alone, but it is a great Chinese cooking rice wine.
Here the fermented black beans and Chinese rice wine are paired with sweet green bell pepper and onions in an easy chicken preparation. The recipe may look long but goes together quite quickly and is an upbeat midweek meal. Serve with white rice alone or as part of a Chinese dinner.
Based on the recipe Chicken Chowed with Black Beans in The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines by Jeff Smith.
3 lb Chicken thighs or breasts hacked into 2-inch piece (if you don’t want the bones they can be removed first)
2 T light soy sauce
2 T corn starch
1 egg white
1 t salt
2 T peanut oil
Peanut oil for sautéing
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 T fermented black beans, rinsed in plain water and mashed with 2 T Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 green sweet bell peppers, seeds and membranes removed and sliced julienne
1 T light soy sauce
2 T Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 cup chicken stock
1 t brown sugar
Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold the cut chicken pieces and let the chicken marinade for 15 minutes. Drain the chicken and reserve the marinade. In a wok or large frying pan heat the peanut oil over a high flame. Brown the chicken in batches to prevent crowding. Set the chicken aside and discard the cooking oil.
Heat the wok again, this time over a med high flame, and add new oil. When hot add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the onions and the fermented black beans mashed with the rice wine, sauté a couple of minutes. Add the green pepper, chicken pieces, reserved marinade as well as the ingredients for the final sauce. Stir to combine and cover. Simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Correct the seasoning and serve.