String Bean Chicken

5 from 9 votes
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This takeout string bean chicken is so easy to make and perfect for a weekday dinner. The juicy chicken is seared in a fragrant black bean sauce with tender green beans. The recipe yields extra sauce so you can serve it on rice to make a delicious one-bowl meal. {Gluten-Free adaptable}

String bean chicken served in plate

While so many Chinese recipes call for a wok to make stir fry, I tend to disagree. I used to live in an apartment with an electric stove, and it never generated heat quickly enough for wok cooking. Plus wok cooking requires more oil. Even after moving to New York, where I have a gas stove in the apartment, I still have the habit of using a nonstick skillet so I can reduce my oil consumption in daily meals.

Today I want to share this easy delicious string bean chicken stir-fry recipe with you. It uses a very simple setup and does not require intimidating wok cooking. But it generates a result that’s even better than takeout. The chicken is so tender, juicy, and flavorful. The sauce is extra rich and aromatic. Simply cook some steamed rice while preparing the stir fry, and your dinner will be ready in no time.

String bean chicken in a pan close-up

Cooking notes

Cookware

I’ve discussed in the past why NOT to use a wok, and some of the best ways to set up your stir-fry station if you’re using an electric stove. Long story short, the most convenient setup is to use your electric stove (or even gas stove) with a nonstick pan (such as the 12” Calphalon deep fry pan, which provides enough surface area against the heating element to heat up your pan well, while it’s also deep enough to hold the ingredients during cooking).

The benefit of using a nonstick pan is that it heats up faster on an electric stove than a traditional wok does. Plus, the nonstick surface prevents the food from sticking to the pan, which happens a lot when you cook starchy foods such as marinated meat and noodles. Most Chinese stir-fry dishes use cornstarch to coat the meat. You always need to use a bit more oil to prevent it from sticking to the pan. Even though I enjoy better seared meat using my carbon steel pan, I always reach for my nonstick pan when I’m preparing daily meals, to reduce my oil consumption.

On the other hand, if you prefer not to use a nonstick pan, I would recommend a cast iron or a carbon steel pan (Ignore stainless. They stick like hell). In this case, you will need to add more oil to prevent the meat from sticking.

Marinating the chicken

The most important step for most Chinese stir-fries. The marinade will season and tenderize the meat. The cornstarch will coat the chicken and protect it from the high heat. It takes a bit of effort but yields a very juicy and tender result, just like the restaurant version.

String bean chicken in a pan

Secret ingredients to create a rich sauce

Adding some fermented black beans or black bean sauce will go a long way. Fermented black beans, also called Douchi in Chinese, are cooked black soybeans fermented in salt water. They give anything you cook with them a deep umami flavor. It will take this simple stir fry to the next level without any extra work. You can find them in an Asian market or order them online (shop on Amazon or The Mala Market).

The bottled black bean sauce works as well. Although I always prefer to use fermented black beans instead, because they are gluten-free and do not contain additives.

Mise en place

I like to organize my ingredients in groups, so I can use fewer bowls. It also makes the cooking process easier. Once you’re done prepping, your kitchen counter should have:

  • Chicken with marinade
  • Mixed sauce with a spoon (to stir again right before adding)
  • Chopped ginger, garlic, and green onion in a bowl
  • Chopped green beans

Best way to cook the green beans

In the recipe, I borrowed the cooking technique from Sichuan dry fried green beans. To make the beans extra tasty, the best way is to slowly roast them until the surface is withered and browned. The process takes some time and patience (about 10 minutes). But the beans will end up with a perfectly seared surface that absorbs more sauce and has a tenderer texture.

On the other hand, there is another solution if you’re in a hurry. Simply sear the beans for 2 minutes or so. Then pour in 1/4 cup chicken stock (or water) and cover the pan. Steam until the beans reach your preferred texture, another 2 minutes or so.

To sum up

You’d be surprised at how easy it is to prepare this restaurant-style string bean chicken at home. I’ve made this dish very saucy so it is perfect to serve on top of rice. I hope you enjoy it!

String bean chicken cooking process

String bean chicken close-up

More takeout style recipes

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.

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String bean chicken - This takeout string bean chicken is so easy to make and perfect for a weekday dinner. The juicy chicken is seared in a fragrant black bean sauce with tender green beans. The recipe yields extra sauce so you can serve it on rice to make a delicious one-bowl meal. {Gluten-Free adaptable}

String Bean Chicken

5 from 9 votes
This takeout string bean chicken is so easy to make and perfect for a weekday dinner. The juicy chicken is seared in a fragrant black bean sauce with tender green beans. The recipe yields extra sauce so you can serve it on rice to make a delicious one-bowl meal. {Gluten-Free adaptable}
To make the dish gluten-free, replace the soy sauce with tamari or coconut aminos, and use dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: takeout
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) boneless skinless chicken breast (or thighs), sliced to 1/4” (5mm) thickness

Marinade

Sauce

Stir fry

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 lb (450 g) green beans , cut to 1” (2.5 cm) long pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic , chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger , minced
  • 2 green onions , chopped

Instructions

  • Combine the chicken and all the marinade ingredients in a big bowl. Stir to mix well. Let marinate for 15 minutes while preparing the other ingredients.
  • Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to mix well.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Spread the chicken in the skillet in a single layer. Sear until the bottom turns golden without moving it, 1 minute or so. Stir and flip to cook the other side, until golden, another minute or so. Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a big plate and set aside.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the green beans. Turn to medium heat. Sear the green beans, stirring and flipping occasionally, until the surface is browned and the texture turns tender, 10 minutes or so (*Footnote 1). Reduce to medium-low heat if the pan starts to smoke too much.
  • Turn to medium-high heat again. Add the garlic, ginger, and onion. Drizzle with a bit more oil (or chicken stock), 2 tablespoons or so. Stir and cook for a minute to release the fragrance.
  • Add the chicken back into the skillet. Stir the sauce again to thoroughly dissolve the cornstarch and pour it into the pan. Stir a few times until the sauce thickens and coats the ingredients. Immediately transfer everything to a big plate.
  • Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.

Notes

  1. Slowly searing the beans generates the best result. But if you’re in a hurry, you can sear the green beans for 2 minutes, add 1/4 cup chicken stock (or water), then cover to steam. Cook until the green beans turn tender or reach your desired texture, 2 to 3 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 4g, Calories: 298kcal, Carbohydrates: 24.4g, Protein: 27.8g, Fat: 10.2g, Saturated Fat: 1.3g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 778mg, Potassium: 752mg, Fiber: 4.5g, Sugar: 10.6g, Calcium: 50mg, Iron: 2.2mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don't forget the last step! Tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!
String bean chicken - This takeout string bean chicken is so easy to make and perfect for a weekday dinner. The juicy chicken is seared in a fragrant black bean sauce with tender green beans. The recipe yields extra sauce so you can serve it on rice to make a delicious one-bowl meal. {Gluten-Free adaptable}

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Nancy E. Sutton says:

    This looks delicious and easy, Maggie. Will be making it soon. I’d just like to know what kind (and size) non-stick pan you use? Teflon? Ceramic (which one) ? Carbon steel? or… ? Thanks a bunch 🙂

    • Maggie says:

      Currently I’m using the 12″ T-fal nonstick pan!

  2. John Kovo says:

    We made this last night using a 12″ carbon steel skillet and with chicken thighs. The green beans cooked the full 10 minutes before browning on both sides. The only changes were an addition of a 1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne to the marinade for a little heat and coarsely chopping the fermented black beans before adding to the sauce. Otherwise, we followed your recipe and thought it was delicious served over rice.
    We loved the simplicity and the subtle flavors of this dish, it came together very quickly and have agreed to put it in our permanent rotation.
    Thank you for this recipe.

  3. Debi says:

    5 stars
    I made this tonight for my family and everyone absolutely loved it. My husband asked me to put it on the “short” rotation! 🙂

  4. Marissa says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! My kids even liked it. Easy to follow. Thank you!

  5. phxgeo says:

    We enjoy the flavor and bite of flower peppers especially with green beans when they are stir fried. Would you put it in at step 3 or step 6

    • Maggie says:

      I would put the peppercorns in step 4 if using whole, and step 5 if using grounded, so it infuses the oil and will be cooked more thoroughly.

      • phxgeo says:

        Thank you Maggie for your prompt reply. Stay safe in NYC.

  6. Christina says:

    5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight, better than the restaurant. This recipe is going in the offline binder!!

  7. Darren Nettrouer says:

    5 stars
    This is as good or better than anything i have had in a restaurant. I love fermented black beans. It is an easy recipe too. This is a keeper.

  8. Michele says:

    The biggest problem with this recipe is not eating all the chicken while waiting for the beans to cook. OMG. So good. Since I used the deBuyer pan, I added all the oil with the chicken, and then didn’t need to add any more with the beans. I didn’t stir the beans enough while I was cooking them, so it took an extra couple of minutes. I added some Korean chili flakes to the sauce, since I like this dish slightly spicy. It was excellent!! Thank you.

  9. Nancy Collins says:

    Dear Maggie – Can you explain the difference between Black Bean Sauce and Fermented Black Bean Paste. I am trying to order the right ingredients on Amazon (the Mala market is sold out on these items) and there are so many types of bean paste (with chile, with garlic, plain), and there is “paste” vs. “sauce”. Also, some of the jars say they are made with “broad beans” and some with “soy beans.” So, can you recommend which item to use in this dish, as well as the differences in the different sauces/pastes. Thanks!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Nancy, to answer your question:
      Fermented Black Bean Paste – It’s not the one used in this recipe and it’s usually used as Peking duck dipping sauce. It’s made with soy bean and flour, and tastes sweeter. It’s called “Tian Mian Jiang” in Chinese, directly translated to “sweet flour paste”, we also call it “sweet bean paste”.
      Fermented Black Bean Sauce – not the one used in this recipe but you can use it as an alternative. It’s a smooth sauce made with fermented board beans with added aromatics (garlic, sugar etc). Theoretically, you can use the sauce directly from the jar. But I found the sauce not as fragrant as homemade so I would add other seasonings anyway.
      Fermented black beans – it’s the type used in this recipe. It’s fermented board beans that usually only include two ingredients (board beans and salt). You can use this brand from Amazon: https://amzn.to/37LJwpC (I used it before and it’s one of the good ones) Although this one and the fermented black bean sauce are interchangeable, I prefer to have the beans at home because it’s cheaper and they stay in the fridge for a very long time.
      Hope this helps and happy cooking!

  10. Tiphanie says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! Better than Chinese take-out good. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. Cynthia Ryanen says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely love this!!! I did use rice wine vinegar as suggested as a substitution for the sherry and honey as opposed to sugar. I am making this again for the second time in two weeks! Easy, fast, healthy and most importantly, delicious! Looking forward to trying many more of your recipes!

  12. Rebecca says:

    Great recipe. Will make again.

  13. DaveK says:

    5 stars
    Awesome, the chicken was so tender and bean just right. My only comment is my wife thought it was a bit too salty . I don’t know if thats from the soy or the fermented bean sauce…any suggestions how to tone the salt down?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      The salt coms from soy sauce, fermented bean paste, chicken broth, and maybe even Shaoxing wine (depending on where you got it and if it says salted on the label). To reduce the salt, you can use a low (or no) sodium chicken broth. I would also reduce the soy sauce and fermented bean paste by 1 teaspoon each to start.

  14. Abby says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely fantastic, yet another great recipe!

  15. J-Mom says:

    5 stars
    Lovely! Spicy and tasty.

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