Cooking With The Godmother: Lao Gan Ma Black Bean Chicken


“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 Lao Gan Ma and cook with her often.

Lao Gan Ma

This recipe uses the Godmother’s Black Bean oil.

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.


In a home wok, it’s best to cook the ingredients separately before combining them at the end

My mom recipes often involve the Godmom. One of my easy favorites that still feels like a real Sichuan dish and pleases Fong Chong’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 soy beans and chili peppers. I mix and match whatever vegetables I have in the fridge with the chicken bits, pour in my spicy Lao Gan Ma-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 Lao Gan Ma 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.


A version with bell peppers and green beans

Cooking With The Godmother: Lao Gan Ma Black Bean Chicken
  • 1 pound dark meat chicken, cut in small, ½-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Lao Gan Ma 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
  1. Marinate chicken cubes in the Shaoxing wine and salt while you mix the sauce. Combine the Lao Gan Ma Black Bean sauce, light soy sauce, chicken broth, dark soy sauce and sugar in a bowl or measuring cup.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Free free to substitute your own favorite protein and vegetables in this recipe. Just stick with the proportion of ingredients to sauce for a winning combination.


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14 Responses

  1. Christopher says:

    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!

    • Taylor Holliday says:

      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…

  2. Traci says:

    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! ?

    • Taylor Holliday says:

      Hi Traci,
      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.

  3. Ian says:

    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!

  4. Paul Winalski says:

    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.

  5. Carole says:

    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 ?

  6. Omg I love lao gan ma…and this recipe looks divine. I just discovered your blog, and I am already hooked 😀

    • Taylor Holliday says:

      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:

  7. Thom says:

    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.

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