Cooking With The Godmother: Laoganma Black Bean Chicken
A Sichuan “Mom Recipe”
My blog is all about cooking “authentic” Sichuan food. But my definition of authentic doesn’t mean always using specific recipes, it just means cooking Sichuan food the way it would be cooked in Chengdu. So I do not feel guilty about this shortcut recipe for black bean chicken, since I know that people in Sichuan cook this way and would eat this in a heartbeat. People all over China—and increasingly the world—love Laoganma and cook with her often.
My ode to The Godmother—China’s Best Chili Oils and Sauces—on this blog is far and away my most popular post, so I figured that many of you might want to know what I actually cook with her. I was also inspired to write this recipe up after Epicurious put a shortcut recipe for morning buns that used packaged crescent roll dough up on their website and some fans were appalled, calling it a “mom recipe.” A writer at the site took up the cause and defended mom cooking, and so do I. Even though I cook almost entirely with non-processed foods, let’s just be real and acknowledge that all moms—or anyone responsible for putting meals on the table day in and day out—love a shortcut.
My mom recipes often involve the Godmom. One of my easy favorites that still feels like a real Sichuan dish and pleases Fongchong’s made-in-China palate is black bean chicken. LGM’s Black Bean oil (or the Chili Oil With Black Bean variant) is a super-umami mix of preserved black soybeans and chili peppers. I mix and match whatever vegetables I have in the fridge with the chicken bits, pour in my spicy Laoganma-concocted sauce and I’m done. Thank you, Godmother, for the weeknight save.
In this version, I marry stir-fried chicken with a kind of dry-fried green bean, charred but crisp, and with sweet, caramelized white onion. Sometimes I use bell peppers. Or celery. We love celery. You could use vegetables exclusively. I usually omit the aromatics—ginger and garlic—because this is a shortcut recipe, I’m trying to save prep time, and Laoganma already packs so much flavor that you can get away without them.
Just use your own favorite ingredients and stick with the proportion of ingredients to sauce for a winning combination and a mom recipe to be proud of. You can even custom-make your own LGM-inspired Mala Chili Crisp with the kit-exclusive recipe in our DIY Mala Chili Crisp and Chili Oil Kit!
Cooking With The Godmother: Laoganma Black Bean Chicken
- 1 pound dark meat chicken, cut in small, 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 heaping tablespoons Laoganma Chili Oil with Black Bean
- 2 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Chinese dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 8 ounces thin green beans (haricots verts), trimmed
- 1 white onion, cut in large chunks and separated
- Marinate chicken cubes in the Shaoxing wine and salt while you mix the sauce. Combine the Laoganma Black Bean sauce, light soy sauce, chicken broth, dark soy sauce and sugar in a bowl or measuring cup.
- Heat wok over a high flame until wisps of heat starts to rise from it. Add 2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, swirl it up the sides of the wok, and heat until quite hot. Add chicken cubes in one layer and leave undisturbed to cook and sear on one side. Flip the chicken, sear on the other side, and stir-fry until fully cooked. Remove chicken from the wok and set aside.
- In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and parboil green beans for about 2-3 minutes, until partially cooked but still crisp. Drain and dry well.
- Clean wok, return to flame, and add 2 tablespoons oil. When oil is hot, add green beans and stir-fry over medium-high flame until they begin to char and are done to your liking. Remove green beans and set aside.
- Add a bit more oil to the wok, and add onion. Stir-fry until it starts to char and caramelize. Add back the green beans and chicken. Pour the sauce in and combine all ingredients well. Stir-fry briefly and splash in a bit more broth if it seems dry. Serve hot.
Wow. This looks delicious! Thank you for sharing it. I also love Lao Gan Ma and cook with her all the time. I will try to find her Black Beans at my local Asian Market. How similar is it to Pixian Douban Jiang? If it is just black Beans, I am guessing it is not as spicy? I always have that on hand and cook with it often.
Thank you for helping me cook more things!
Thanks, Christopher! Actually, LGM Black Bean tastes nothing like douban jiang–different beans and flavorings. It IS spicy though, with lots of chili pepper. I bet you’ll like it…
This looks wonderful and I can’t wait to try it! Im so glad I saw your comment about “or its chili oil with black bean variant”. I keep looking at all of these photos with jars that say “black bean”, and the only one I have found in my store says “chili oil with black bean”. It is great, and looks loaded with beans like pictures I see of the sauce. Is there much difference? Is it worth ordering (3x the price in my store) online? I’m so glad I found your blog! ?
For some reason, the Chili Oil With Black Bean is what’s available in my store now too. To me it tastes very similar to the one called just Black Bean, and I use them interchangeably. I’ve found that all the sauces in the Lao Gan Ma line are delicious.
I made a slightly-improvised version of this last night and thought it was delicious. I had a jar of LGM chili sauce on hand, but it entirely lacked black beans–so I just added some beans that I had bought separately, along with a little crushed garlic. It turned out great, and took no time to prepare. Many thanks for the recipe!
That could work! Thanks for letting us know.
I made this last night with celery slices (I’m not fond of green beans) and it was delicious. And so easy to make. The Lo Gan Ma product I used simply said “Black Bean” on the label–no mention of chili oil.
Glad to hear it, Paul. Thanks!
Tried chicken stirfry with the chilli and black sauce and it was great with a real kick just how we like it,I will be trying the black bean oil in the near future, but the chilli/blackbean sauce lovely ?
Happy to hear that, Carole!
Omg I love lao gan ma…and this recipe looks divine. I just discovered your blog, and I am already hooked 😀
Hi Soe! Nice to meet you. I’m drooling over your blog too. (Congrats on your Saveur nomination–my category from last year!) We have a big Burmese (and Karen) community in Nashville and at my daughter’s school, but I can’t talk any of them into teaching me Burmese cooking. So glad to have you as a source: http://www.limeandcilantro.com/
My daughter’s favorite snack might just be a fried egg on rice with Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp. We go through jars of it far too fast. I’ve started buying them 4 at a time. I also like her shortcut to Dan Dan noodles.
Hi Thom! That’s one of my daughter’s favorites too. Our girls have good taste. 🙂
Thanks for sharing. I just bought the spicy chili crisp today because I knew my Chinese son would love it, but wasn’t sure what to do with it. We’ll be trying this recipe this week.
That’s great to hear, Ruby. I do think all Chinese love LGM. And all Americans would too if they had it!
Did this today with breast and long beans (I am a firm believer in playing refrigerator roulette with any recipe). Charring the chicken and onions gave a nice umami taste and a flavor change from my usual pork based dishes in this style. Long beans are really pretty when quick cooked and give a dramatic look to the presentation. Quite a nice healthy choice.
Glad to hear this, Spike. I also play refrigerator roulette with recipes and have been making this with bell peppers. But taking the extra step with the long beans is worth it. Thanks for reporting back.
Thanks for this recipe, it’s absolutely delicious! I know I’ll be making it again and again.
You are welcome! Thanks for letting me know!
This article made me smile – my SIL is from Chengdu and the first time I helped her in the kitchen she gave me jars of Godmother chili crisp and the chili black bean to take home, telling me to add it to everything as it would make it taste good. And I do! I add it to pretty much any soup, stew, and stir fry I make. This dish was really good – I even impressed the SIL!
I have the plain LGM chili crisp in oil, as well as a Lee Kum Kee black bean garlic sauce.. how would I adapt this recipe to use this combination? I don’t want it to get too salty since the LKK and LGM both have their own salt ingredients
Hi Shaf, thanks for reading! I haven’t used the Lee Kum Kee sauce, but you’re right to be wary of oversalting between the two! Another commenter above also started with bean-less Lao Gan Ma chili oil, and added beans and crushed garlic separately to great success.
This would also be a great use for our douchi (fermented black soy beans), the same stuff that goes in the actual Lao Gan Ma black bean variations.
Since this black bean chicken recipe calls for 2 heaping tablespoons of LGM, I’d try mixing 1 heaping tablespoon of your LGM chili crisp with 1 teaspoon at a time of your Lee Kum Kee sauce, stirring as you go and increasing the Lee Kum Kee if needed. Then, since Taylor’s notes say to stick to the ingredient:sauce ratio, I’d top off the mix with LGM as necessary. Sorry for the late response, hope this helps other readers in need of substitutions!
Just cooked this today. So good. This recipe is going on my family’s favorite dishes list I am going to recommend your site to my friends. Thanks
Oh, that’s awesome! Thanks for letting us know.
I’ve made this so many times now! The charred flavour is totally worth the smoky kitchen. The spice is perfect, and the chicken marinade made it super tender.
I’m really happy to hear this! I think LGM black bean gets overshadowed by LGM chili crisp, but it’s great for cooking. Thanks for letting us know!
I love making this with a few seeded, chopped jalapeños mixed in with the green beans. Also a variety using thin sliced beef, and substituting bell pepper and carrot for the green beans. I often rinse and throw in a few extra preserved black beans too.
So glad you’ve made it your own!
Hello. How long would the jar of black beans in chilli oil last in the refridgerator before spoiling please?
Forever! Not really, but at least a couple years.