• Andrew Zimmern Cooks: Chengdu Chicken with Black Beans, Chiles & Peanuts


Chengdu Chicken with Black Beans, Chiles & Peanuts

By Andrew Zimmern

This spicy Chengdu-style chicken in an umami-rich black bean sauce is a mainstay at my house. Marinating the chicken overnight in rice wine and cornstarch makes the meat tender, helps tighten the sauce and gives the chicken a twice-cooked slippery quality that’s a sign of good Chinese wok cookery. Make sure you have all of your ingredients prepped before you start cooking, once the wok is hot this dish comes together quickly.

Watch Andrew make this recipe:

Andrew Zimmern Cooks: Chengdu Chicken with Black Beans, Chiles & Peanuts


  • 20 to 24 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast and thigh meat, diced
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine or sake
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons toban djan (fermented chile bean paste)
  • 1/3 cup shelled peanuts, toasted in a skillet
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
  • 12 dried whole Chinese chiles (tsin-tsin chiles or Mexican arbols work well)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 tablespoons whole fermented Chinese black beans
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 cup scallions, chopped
  • Cooked white rice, for serving



Combine the chicken, rice wine, cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of the toban djan, and mix well in a large Ziploc bag or bowl. Cover or seal and place in the fridge to marinate for 4 to 24 hours.

Drain chicken and discard any remaining marinade.

Preheat a wok over high heat for several minutes.

Combine the peanuts, white pepper, white sugar, Szechuan peppercorns, dried chiles, ginger and garlic in a bowl.

When the wok is very hot, add the peanut oil and swirl. It should smoke and ripple immediately.

Add the bowl of mixed seasonings. Swirl in the wok—they will scorch quickly.

Next, add the chicken and 2/3 of the scallions. Wok toss until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Use wok tools so you don’t break the chiles and can scrape across sides and bottom of the wok safely.

Add the fermented black beans, brown sugar, black vinegar, soy sauce and remaining toban djan. Toss and cook for another 2 minutes. The sauce should reduce and tighten to a glaze.

Toss in the remaining scallions and immediately spill contents out on a platter. Serve with white rice.

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