Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce

Introducing one of the best chicken marinades ever – homemade black bean sauce. The chicken breasts are briefly brined and then grilled over charcoal. It results in a crispy and flavorful crust, juicy and tender meat, and a heavenly smoky aroma.

Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce - Perfectly cooked chicken with a crispy and flavorful crust, juicy and tender meat, and a heavenly smoky aroma.

One of the most attractive features of Chinese cuisine is the variety of savory sauces. Chinese chefs are really good at using herbs and fermented ingredients to create rich and balanced sauces that are full of umami. Or, to use a trendy term, “big in flavor.”

When I was planning to cook with chicken breast, the first thing that came to mind was seasoning. If not prepared and seasoned properly, chicken breast will usually end up plain and dry. To create a perfect-tasting chicken breast, I chose to use the combination of a charcoal grill and homemade black bean sauce.

In this recipe, I use fermented black beans, soy sauce, and tons of fresh herbs to create a scrumptious marinade to brine the chicken briefly. Then I cook it on charcoal grill, with high heat at first, and then slow cook it with indirect heat. It results in a perfectly cooked chicken breast with a crispy and flavorful crust, juicy and tender meat, and a heavenly smoky aroma.

Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce - Perfectly cooked chicken with a crispy and flavorful crust, juicy and tender meat, and a heavenly smoky aroma.

Fermented black beans 101

Fermented black beans are called Dou Chi (豆豉) in Chinese. These black beans are pre-seasoned, fermented, preserved in salt, and packed in plastic bags or cardboard containers. They are the key ingredient in black bean sauce. Their flavor is similar to that of soy sauce, just more pungent and powerful. I especially like to use them in marinades, because they add tons of savory umami and thicken the sauce at the same time.

Fermented Black Beans | omnivorescookbook.com

You can find fermented black beans in Asian or Chinese markets or on Amazon. Note that they are sometimes labeled as “salted black beans”, “douchi”, “fermented beans” or “preserved beans.”. Before purchasing, always look at the ingredient list. Some of them are pre-seasoned with five spice, ginger, and / or orange peels. I personally like to use the ones only seasoned with salt. It gives me more flexibility and reduces the chance I’ll over-season the food.

Fermented Black Beans | omnivorescookbook.com

To use fermented black beans, always wash and rinse them a few times, to get rid of any excess salt. This way your dish won’t end up too salty. Rinsing the beans also softens them, so it will yield a tender texture after cooking, without tasting chewy or rubbery.

Once you open the package of black beans, transfer them into an airtight container and store them in the fridge. They will stay good for many months (six months to a year).

When the beans are ready to use, add plenty of ginger, garlic, and shallot, to add depth of flavor. Don’t forget to add a small spoonful of sugar. The goal is not to add sweetness, but to balance the saltiness and create a more concentrated flavor.

Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce - Perfectly cooked chicken with a crispy and flavorful crust, juicy and tender meat, and a heavenly smoky aroma.

Introducing Butcher’s Box

A week ago I received a box of beautiful cuts of meat from Butcher Box. Their concept is really cool, so I’d like to share their awesome product with you, too. The guys at Butcher Box curate cuts of grass fed beef and organic chicken and pork from a few collectives of small farms, pack different selections of cuts into a box with beautiful recipe cards, and deliver them to your door on a monthly basis.

Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce - Perfectly cooked chicken with a crispy and flavorful crust, juicy and tender meat, and a heavenly smoky aroma.

When I opened the box, I could really tell the quality and freshness of the cuts from their color and the size. For example, my box contained four airline chicken breasts – a boneless cut of chicken breast with the skin on and the drumette attached. The size of the breasts was about like my palm, less than an inch thick, with a vibrant pink color. In other words, real chicken that grew up running around in a yard. It was totally the opposite of the giant, thick, and tasteless chicken breasts that come from industrial, antibiotic-pumped, caged birds.

As a matter of personal preference, I rarely roast or grill whole chicken breasts (as they taste much better when cut up and stir fried). But I found that the airline cut is perfect for grilling because the skin will keep the meat very moist and tender. The result of the grilling was even better than I expected. Some of the juiciest and most flavorful chicken breast ever!

1605_Grilled-Chicken-With-Black-Bean-Sauce_002

Check out Butcher Box if you appreciate better tasting meat, and save yourself a trip to the grocery store.

How to serve

Just like my five spice grilled chicken, this recipe produces a very flavorful dish that does not require additional sauce or dressing. You can serve it along with a simple vegetable side. We also enjoy it on top of rice with grilled vegetables. The chicken will retain its great texture and flavor, so you can serve it at room temperature on top of a salad, too.

Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce - Perfectly cooked chicken with a crispy and flavorful crust, juicy and tender meat, and a heavenly smoky aroma.

Cooking video

I recorded a short video to show you how easy it is to cook this dish. Find more videos to learn Chinese cooking on my YouTube channel!

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it #omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!

Thanks Butcher Box  for providing this awesome box of cuts! All the opinions in this articles are my own.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
The recipe uses a charcoal grill. Alternatively, you can use a gas grill or bake the chicken in the oven. If using an oven, bake chicken at 200 C (400 F) for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of your cut. Flip once halfway through.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts (or thighs) (*see footnote 1)
  • Sauce
  • 1/4 cup dried fermented black beans
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, or tamari for gluten-free
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot ( from one medium-sized shallot)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (or paprika for less spiciness)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
Instructions
  1. Add fermented black beans into a bowl and water to cover. Gently wash the beans by hand, rinse a few times, drain, and transfer to a small bowl. Mash with the back of a spoon.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.
    Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce Cooking Process Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce Cooking Process
  3. Dry chicken breasts with paper towel. Transfer to a large zipper bag. Pour in sauce, use a spoon to arrange the sauce, so the marinade is on the meat side of the chicken. Squeeze out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Massage the bag a few times. Let marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. If you aren’t going to cook the chicken immediately, you can store the chicken in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.
    Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce Cooking Process Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce Cooking Process
  4. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When the charcoal at the top of the chimney is lit, put on heat resistant gloves, and pour the charcoal halfway over the coal grate to create a moderate two-zone fire. Set the cooking grate in place, cover the grill, and preheat for 5 minutes. Clean the cooking grate. Use a pair of tongs to dip a paper towel in oil, and brush grate with a thin layer of oil. Skip this step if you’re using a skin-on cut.
  5. Place chicken breasts on hottest part of the cooking grate, skin side down. Grill uncovered until the bottom is browned, about 3 minutes. Flip to cook the other side until browned.
    Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce Cooking Process Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce Cooking Process
  6. Transfer the chicken breasts to the cooler part of the grill, skin side up. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Flip and cook covered again, until the internal temperature of the thickest part reads 68 degrees C (155 F). Remove chicken from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes. The residual heat will continue to cook the chicken a bit more.
    Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce Cooking Process
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature with rice and grilled vegetables, or over salad.
Notes
1. Try to select chicken breasts that are smaller and thinner in size. They will cook faster and result in a more flavorful dish.

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Meet Maggie

Born and raised in Beijing, Maggie now calls Texas home. She’s learned to love barbecue, but her heart belongs to the food she grew up with. For her, Omnivore’s Cookbook is all about introducing cooks to real-deal Chinese dishes, which can be as easy as a 30-minute stir-fry or as adventurous as making your own dim sum. Recipes, step-by-step photos and video are the tools she uses to share her knowledge—and her enthusiasm for Chinese food.

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13 thoughts on “Grilled Chicken Breast with Black Bean Sauce

  1. Robyn @ Simply Fresh Dinners

    Wow, I saw this gorgeous pic on Google+ this morning, Maggie, and how fun to see your awesome video! The music got me so excited, lol.
    This truly is a great chicken recipe and it looks so tender and juicy! You are a Grill Queen!

    Reply
  2. Kathleen | Hapa Nom Nom

    Wow! Seriously, wow! Maggie, this chicken breast is just incredible! I love your black bean sauce and I couldn’t believe how abbreviated your ingredients list is for the amount of flavor going on here!

    Reply
  3. Anita

    The chicken look phenomenal. I wish I own a charcoal grill, but I bet it will be good even with a pan grill. I miss smoky charcoal smell 😉

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Tim, I don’t really soak the beans, just rinse and wash them a few times with tap water (in about a minute). The beans will become tender very fast.

      Reply
  4. Sonya

    Hey Maggie!

    Im doing this recipe for my hisband and I this weekend, and thankfully walmart has th beans im looking for, if they dont then there is an asian market close by. We love asparagus, was there anything special you did with them? Lemon juice? Garlic powder? Salt and ground pepper? Did you grill those as well? Anyhow, cant wait to try allmof this on Saturday !

    P.s.
    Love your website!

    Sonya

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Sonya, wow, I’m glad to hear you can find the beans in Walmart. Seem like Chinese spices are quite common these days.
      Good question about asparagus. Yes we grill asparagus, usually right after cooking main dish. It only takes a few minutes and create very nice result. The easiest way is, toss the asparagus in olive oil, season with salt and ground pepper. You can add a bit garlic powder and chili powder if you need extra flavors. But I think salt and pepper do the job very well. You can squeeze a bit lemon juice while serving.
      I’ve been testing a few Asian style grilled asparagus recipes without great success – both soy sauce glaze and reduced vinegar sauce failed. Hopefully I’ll find out a more interesting way to do asparagus soon.
      Glad to hear you like my recipes 🙂 Happy cooking Sonya, and let me know how the dish turns out!

      Reply

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