Saturday, October 18, 2008

Liuyang Black Bean Chicken

Did you know that my original chicken, tofu and black bean post is the most widely read page on this blog? Even if you take into account that that post has been up the longest, it still kills every subsequent entry. Given that I think the original chicken/black bean post sucks (not the recipe, just the post), I decided to do another chicken and black bean stir fry. Is this redundant? I don't think it is because the flavors are very, very different. Also, it involves an interesting technique. Chinese food aficionados already know that the Chinese LOVE to cook things multiple times. There are countless examples of this in Chinese cookery and, in this recipe, the chicken is twice cooked in hot oil and then stir-fried.

This recipe is from "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook" by Fuchsia Dunlop. I absolutely love Dunlop's cookbooks because they focus on under-represented regions and cuisines. Her masterpiece on Sichuanese cooking is considered one of the all-time English language Chinese cookbook classics. While her volume on Hunanese cuisine doesn't quite scale those literary heights, it is still an excellent addition to any Chinese cooking enthusiasts' library and comes highly recommended.


1 lb. boneless (and skinless, if you like) chicken thighs
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled, larger cloves cut in half
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
4 scallions, green parts only, cut into 1.5 inch segments
4 tablespoons of fermented black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon of Shaoxing rice wine or other Chinese rice wine
3 teaspoons of dried chili flakes (I used Korean chili flakes...they provide an outrageous amount of color to the final dish but you can use whatever you have on hand even if it's leftover chili flakes from pizza)
2 teaspoons unseasoned, rice vinegar ( I actually used more because I like a bit of vinegar tang)
1 teaspoon sesame oil (I omitted the sesame oil from my version because I was out)
2 cups of oil

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Add to a bowl and season with salt and the soy sauce. Mix well.

Organize all of the other ingredients, other than the oil, into little ramekins or bowls. The cooking process goes quickly so you want to be prepared.

Heat up the oil in a wok. Wait until it is good and hot or, if you have an oil thermometer, until it's 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the chicken and cook until the color has changed. Remove the chicken. Allow the oil to heat up to 350-400 degrees and add the chicken. This time, cook the chicken until it's golden-brown. When done, set the chicken aside.

Pour off all of the oil except for a couple of tablespoons.

Put your pan on medium heat, toss in the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry until the garlic is soft. Toss in the black beans and rice wine. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Toss in the chili flakes and stir-fry until they've colored the oil.

Add the fried chicken to the pot along with the vinegar. Stir fry. Add salt to taste. At this point, the chicken should be mostly cooked but grab a piece and check. Toss in the green onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds. The onions should be slightly wilted, not cooked through.

Turn off the heat, add the sesame oil and serve with plenty of rice.

Time- 15 minutes. Fast enough for a weeknight dinner.

Chicken- 3 bucks.
Incidentals- 2 dollars
5 bucks total, will serve 3-4 people as part of a multi-dish stir-fry dinner. Or two people as a single-dish dinner.

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