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Chicken and Asparagus with Spicy Black Bean Sauce

Chicken and Asparagus with Spicy Black Bean Sauce
This stir-fry is especially delicious poured over a plate of hot steaming rice. Chinese preserved black beans are salted fermented black soybeans. When stir-fried, they exude a pungent and rich savory flavor. Use asparagus that is not too thin and not too fat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Chinese preserved black beans, rinsed with cold water and drained
  • 1 tsp. peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 large red jalapeño chili, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbs. water
  • 1 tsp. oyster sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp. Asian sesame oil

Directions:

Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil, garlic, black beans, ginger and salt, and toss and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Raise the heat to high, add the asparagus, onion and bell pepper, and toss and stir until coated with oil and seared, about 1 minute.

Add the chicken and toss and stir until opaque and firm, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, soy sauce, sugar and chili, bring to a boil, cover, and cook until the asparagus is tender but still crunchy, about 1 minute more. Add the cornstarch mixture and oyster sauce, if using, and cook, stirring continuously, until the sauce thickens, about 30 seconds. Stir in the sesame oil and serve hot.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Asian Flavors, by Joyce Jue (Time-Life Books, 1999).