This is a slightly simplified version of a delicious dish from the Hunanese firework-producing city of Liuyang. In the original, the chicken is deep-fried; here, it is simply stir-fried, so it keeps its succulent mouthfeel. The seasonings remain the same as in the original recipe. You can omit the chillies, or increase them, according to taste. Fermented black beans are among the most distinctive Hunanese seasonings, especially when used in combination with chillies.

Here, as in many Chinese dishes, an apparently small amount of meat goes a long way: serve this with two or three vegetable dishes and rice and it will be enough for four people. You could use chicken breast instead if you prefer.


  • 2 boneless chicken thighs, (about 8 oz/225 g)
  • 1 smallish green pepper, or 1/2 each red and green pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • equivalent amount ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fermented black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons ground chillies, to taste
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced spring onion greens
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • For the marinade
    • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1-½ teaspoon potato starch
    • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce


1. Cut the chicken into 1–2 cm cubes and put into a bowl. Stir together the marinade ingredients, add to the chicken and mix well.
2. Cut the pepper(s) into small squares to match the chicken. Heat a wok over a high flame, add 1 tbsp of the oil, then the peppers and stir-fry until hot and slightly cooked, but still crisp. Remove and set aside.
3. Reheat the wok over a high flame. Add the remainder of the oil, swirl it around, then tip in the marinated chicken and stir-fry to separate the pieces. When they have separated and are starting to become pale, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until they smell delicious. Add the black beans and stir a few times until you can smell them. Then add the ground chillies and return the peppers to the wok. Continue to stir-fry until the chicken is just cooked through and everything is sizzlingly delicious, seasoning with salt to taste. Then stir in the spring onions and, off the heat, the sesame oil. Serve.


Equivalencies: 1–2 cm = .4-.8 in.




Fuchsia Dunlop


4 servings




Asian : East Asian : Hunan



preparation times

• Prep: 10 Minutes
• Cook: 25 Minutes


- Wok