Asparagus Chicken Stir Fry Recipe (Black Bean Sauce Chicken)

Asparagus Chicken Stir Fry Recipe (Black Bean Sauce Chicken) Recipe

I receive many questions and recipe suggestions from readers. It might take a while for me to respond but I want you to know that I read every single one of them and they always fill me with joy. So here's Bill's (a regular reader) recipe for asparagus chicken. I didn’t make many changes; I just added a few more bold and spicy flavors to counteract the blandness of chicken. Specifically, I used black bean garlic sauce and red chiles, in keeping with the Asian theme of the dish.

The key to making sure this dish turns out well is not to overcook the asparagus. I chose to use baby asparagus in this dish but regardless, it should be bright green and still have some crunch . The texture, if cooked properly, is wonderful, and baby asparagus is visually appealing to boot.

For a little background, here's what Bill wrote about the dish:

"I got this recipe a very long time ago while taking a cooking class at “Isle of Skye Kitchen” in Saratoga [California], a combo antique store and vendor of exotic spices ... long gone. It has been a family favorite for years. Here it is with some personal experience updates."

Thanks Bill!


Yields: 6 servings

6 chicken breast halves (about 1-½ pounds), boneless and skinless
½ teaspoon baking powder (optional)
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 lime
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground coriander
5 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Kosher salt (or regular salt)
1 teaspoon mushroom seasoning salt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (click on the link for the recipe)
1 pound small asparagus spears
2 shallots, chopped
2 dried red chiles, stemmed
2 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce
1 teaspoon chili bean sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sweet cooking rice wine
1 teaspoon grated palm sugar (or granulated sugar)
2 tablespoons tapioca starch (or corn starch)
1 cup homemade chicken stock, or more if needed
¼ teaspoon black pepper


Juice and zest the lime.

Prepping the asparagus: Trim about ½ inch from the root. Cut the asparagus into about 2-½" pieces. Set aside.

Cooking asparagus: In a large non-stick pan, heat the oil. Cook the garlic until fragrant. Add the asparagus. Quickly stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes by tossing them in a circular motion over high heat (the pan should be lifted in a low angle to facilitate the movement). Once the asparagus turns a glossy, bright green color, season with mushroom seasoning salt. Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon lime juice. Set aside.

Marinating the chicken:

Trim the fat around the bottom of the breasts if there is any. Wash and pat them dry using paper towels. Cut into 1-½" cubes.

Season the chicken with 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, ground coriander, kosher salt and pepper. Add the baking powder, lime zest, ginger garlic paste and yogurt. Toss well. Place the chicken in a large bowl or a sealable zip-top bag. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons sweet cooking rice wine and 1 tablespoon canola oil. Marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

Cooking chicken:

Remove the chicken 15 minutes before cooking to get it back to room temperature.

In a wok, heat about 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil. Add the shallots and dried red chiles and cook on high heat until slightly golden. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until soft and tender, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the caramelized shallots to a bowl. Set aside.

Pat the meat dry one more time using paper towels. Sprinkle tapioca starch (or corn starch) using a fine mesh strainer and coat all sides of the chicken pieces. Shake off the excess tapioca starch.

In the same wok, add the rest of the canola oil. Once the oil is hot, pan-sear each side of the pieces for about 1-½ minutes (a total of about 9 minutes) until golden. Season with salt and finish with a drizzle of lime juice and cooking wine. Quickly transfer the chicken to a platter, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. At this point the chicken isn't cooked completely; it will finish cooking in the black bean sauce.

Assembly time:

In a bowl, combine the tapioca starch, soy sauce, palm sugar, about 1/3 cup of chicken broth, chili bean sauce and black bean garlic sauce. Set aside.

In the wok, add the remaining chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Add the tapioca mixture to the boiling broth. Continuously stir the broth as it will thicken very quickly. Note: Mix the tapioca mixture to avoid lumps and prevent the starch from sticking to the bottom prior to pouring it into the broth.

Add the shallots and chicken pieces to the black bean sauce. Cover with a dome-shaped lid to enable the steam to fall back in the wok. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Check the texture of the sauce; it should be thick and syrupy. Depending on how thick you like the consistency of the sauce, you can add more chicken broth.

Finish with the asparagus. Check seasoning. Add more mushroom seasoning salt (if needed) and black pepper. Stir well.

Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.

Bon appétit!


Dredging the chicken in tapioca starch keeps in the moisture and makes a golden outer crust. Once you add the flour, pan-sear the meat immediately. If you wait too long, the moisture from the meat will make the coating glue-y and soggy.

Mushroom seasoning salt brings a very distinct, earthy flavor to the sauce. You can buy it at any gourmet specialty store or in most Korean stores. I buy mine at the Marina -10122 Bandley Drive -Cupertino, CA 95014.

I use store-bought Lee Kum Kee brand black bean garlic  and chili bean sauce. You can find them in Asian stores, online or even in the International Cuisine aisle of some local chain markets.

I used rice wine but you could use any other kind of white wine or even more chicken broth if you don't want to use alcohol.

Baking powder, yogurt and lime juice are great meat tenderizers to ensure moist and juicy meat.

The soy sauce brings saltiness to the dish and a nice amber brown color. My favorite soy sauce is the Da Bo De brand. It has a good flavor and is not too salty. You can find this particular sauce, at Dai Thanh Asian market on 420 S 2nd St, in  downtown San Jose. I think this is one of the best "ethnic" grocery stores in the area.

I used asparagus but you could pair the chicken with other vegetables such as green beans or abalone mushrooms.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on July 22, 2010.


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