And I Can Cook, Too

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

May 23, 2007

Happy Birthday Skinnies!

Carol and Louise both had birthdays this week, and to celebrate, we hit the town. We started with drinks and pupus..I mean, entrée’s, at Apothecary (a beautiful bar built in what used to be, you guessed it, an apothecary – I wanted to move in), then moved on to Ying Chow for fabulous Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, Tea Smoked Duck, and Red Vinegar Short Ribs.

If I Were In Charge (And I Am) Here’s How I Would Make Chicken in Black Bean Sauce

1 Lb. Chicken, boned, skinned, and sliced into strips
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tsp. Fresh Ginger, minced
Four Green Onions, chopped, white and green parts
1 Tbsp. Fermented Black Beans*, rinsed (skipping this stage would be a bad idea), and chopped coarsely.
¼ C Sherry (please don’t use cooking sherry, it’s just a bunch of salt, and with the black beans, you don’t need anymore salt)
(Also, cooking sherry is gross and not good in a pinch when you run out real wine and are having a bad day and are desperate.)
(So I’ve read.)
2 Tbsp. Corn Starch
1 C Chicken Broth
Oil, for cooking
Salt & Pepper

Heat oil in a pan or wok on the stove over medium heat. Salt & pepper the chicken strips. Add the chicken to the pan, and sauté until just done, about 7 minutes. Remove. Adding more oil if necessary, sauté the ginger, garlic, and green onion for two minutes. Add the fermented black beans, and cook for two minutes more. Add the chicken broth, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a spoon or spatula to deglaze. (get all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan). Using your fingers, combine the sherry and the cornstarch and mix until all lumps are gone. The result should have the consistency of heavy cream. If not, add more starch or add water to get to the desired texture. If you don’t know what heavy cream feels like, you need to get out more. Bring the chicken broth to a boil, and slowly add the sherry/starch mixture, a little bit at a time. The sauce should thicken quickly. When it reaches a nice, saucy thickness, stop adding the sherry mix. If the sauce gets too thick, thin it out with a little water. Add the chicken back to the pan, stirring to coat with the sauce. Heat completely through and let simmer 5 minutes. Serve with hot rice.

*Found in Asian markets. I’ve seen them labeled “Dow Se.” Not usually found in specialty gourmet markets because they smell.**

** Since you’re only using a tablespoon, you’ll have leftovers. They smell. To avoid smelling up your whole fridge, store in an air-tight container you will never want to use for anything else ever again. An old pickle jar would work. As would something from someone who recently broke your heart.


  • At 6:35 PM, Blogger Kim Binsted said…

    So, I have lots and lots of black beans, of the regular dried kind used in Mexican cooking. Are these the same kind that are used, fermented, in Chinese cooking? If so, can I ferment them? If so, how? There's a fine, fine line between "fermented" and "rotten", and I'd strongly prefer not to cross it.

  • At 2:17 PM, Blogger Kristin Van Bodegraven said…

    Good one! I'll assume your beans are dried. Re-hydrate them. Then add tons of salt, some ginger, maybe a little chili pepper, and perhaps some shoyu. Let sit to ferment. Once bubbly and fermenty, dry out for 3 or 4 days.

    Here's why you don't want to try this in sim:

    1. You've got the wrong beans. Fermented black beans are made from soy beans. Even if that doesn't stop you,
    2. There's a fine, fine line between "fermented" and "rotten", and you'd strongly prefer not to cross it.
    3. You will stink up the entire North Pole.


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