You Ingrates! Here’s something similar done with chicken.

Chicken with Peppers and Black Beans (19 of 19)Do you guys think I’m doing this for my own amusement? I have to tell you I am not impressed. I spend the early part of the week cogitating “What would they like to see?”  “What would be good enough to share with them?” “I’ll need to buy another couple of plates, they are probably bored with these ones…” The thought process goes on. The angst builds until I finally settle on cooking something that I am convinced will win you over. The latter part of the week is spent ensuring I have the best and the freshest ingredients. Saturday, I check my camera gear. Tension in the household mounts. On Saturday evening or possibly Sunday, I take control of the kitchen and cook and photograph for you. Then I process the pictures and try to think of something to say.

So went the week that I did all the above and cooked Monkfish Cheeks in Black Bean and Chili Sauce. And what do you do? You complain that you can’t get monkfish cheeks in Outer Mongolia or wherever it is you live. I am not happy. It is becoming obvious that you are incapable of truly appreciating my culinary art.

I accept this as how things are and how they will remain. On the principle of “If you can’t beat them, join them.”, here’s something very similar done using chicken. I give you Chicken with Peppers, Chili, Lemon grass, Garlic, Ginger and Black Bean Sauce. There are a couple of extra ingredients in the title to try to keep the less ungrateful of you interested.

Chicken with Peppers and Black Beans (1 of 19)Here’s what you’ll need

  • 3 free range chicken breasts
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 3 chilis
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass
  • An inch of ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Fermented black beans
  • 2 tablespoons of rice wine
  • 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of cornstarch
  • Thai fragrant rice to serve

First pour some hot water on the black beans. These take about 20 minutes to come good.

Black beans

I pour on hot water. Not like the way you pour cold water on my ideas.

Then chop the lemongrass.

First chop the lemongrass. You need to get it nice and small.

You need to get it nice and small. Smaller than this (it would not have made as nice a photo).

Then chop the garlic, ginger and chilis.


I tried to keep it interesting for you by using three colour of chili.

Next, seed and chop the peppers. Note the size of the peppers when cut. We want to keep them roughly the same size as the chicken strips. This is for aesthetic reasons and ease of eating.

Three kinds of pepper

I even got the bell peppers in the same colours as the chilis. Nice, or what?

Next chop the chicken into strips, and put it in a bowl.

Add the cornflour / cornstarch

Add the cornflour / cornstarch. I got help. Those are not my purple, chipped fingernails.

Side note of efficiency: I chop the food in this order so I only have to wash the chopping board once at the end. I cut the stuff in ascending order of wetness/sliminess. It also helps to do the chicken last so as not to be spreading raw chicken bits all over the place with the other ingredients. 

Whip the egg with a little water and add to the chicken.

The chicken benefits by getting a slight crispy crust from the coating.

The chicken benefits by getting a slight crispy crust from the coating.

Mix it all up to coat the chicken strips. Heat your large wok. (Don’t start on about not having a large wok. I don’t want to hear it.). Add some peanut oil and then the lemongrass. Stir this until the aromas rise then add the garlic and ginger. Stir this for a little and take it off the heat.

Don't burn these. If you do, the whole dish will take on a bitter cast. Bitter like me.

Don’t burn these. If you do, the whole dish will take on a bitter cast. Bitter like me.

Add and fry the peppers until they get a nice high colour.

A pepper pouring shot. The first of two. Hopefully these will keep you amused.

A pepper pouring shot. The first of two. Hopefully these will keep you amused.

Remove and reserve. Add the chicken strips a few at a time (to prevent the wok cooling down and the chicken stewing). Stir fry them.

A nice coating forms on the chicken when done this way.

A nice coating forms on the chicken when done this way.

When all the chicken is in there, add the chilis and stir fry to incorporate.

The cooking chilis will make you cough. They did for me, for sure.

The cooking chilis will make you cough. They did for me, for sure.

Splash in the soy sauce and rice wine.

Starting to come together nicely. You must be happy - you can get all the ingredients locally.

Starting to come together nicely. You must be happy – you can get all the ingredients locally.

Add back the peppers.

Pepper pouring shot number two.

Pepper pouring shot number two.

Then add the black beans

This is the gratuitous wok shot. I just liked it and thought you would too.

This is the gratuitous wok shot. I just liked it and thought you would too.

Stir to incorporate everything.

Ready to serve. I managed to feed six hungry diners with this.

Ready to serve. I managed to feed six hungry diners with this.

We had it with Thai Fragrant Rice that modestly describes itself as “Legendary Rice”. The flavour of the dish is enhanced by “Healthy Boy Brand” soy sauce. I can testify that the dish is healthy. Try it yourself and let me know if it qualifies as “Legendary”.

Chicken with Peppers and Black Beans

The ginger beer was a great drink to go with this slightly hot tasty chicken.

Now, you have no excuses. All the ingredients are available locally to you. Go and cook this. Report back and let me know if you are once again approving of, and grateful for, my efforts here. Remember, I am doing this for YOU!

With particular thanks to: 

  • Tommy at egg me on for suggesting chicken instead of the fish.
  • Richard at REM Cooks for being unable to get monkfish cheeks in DFW.
  • John in Chicago for likewise in Chicago.
  • John at Feed the Piglet for never cooking monkfish cheeks before. 
  • Eha for not knowing if she could get them in Australia.
  • Stefan at Stefan Gourmet for never having seen monkfish cheeks for sale.
  • To Jodie and Ken at the Garum Factory for “never see the cheeks”.
  • Mad Dog for his comments and co-sparking with Tommy the idea for this post. 
  • And last but not least, the rest of you, for putting up with this nonsense.
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Latest comments
  • This looks delicious! But Conor, I don’t know if I can buy chicken here in Australia…?

    • (just kidding. I was just disappointed that I missed out on the first round grilling from the monkfish post! Ha!)

    • Great minds …
      Any ideas about this rice thing? Some kind of carb I believe.

      • No idea Adam. Hm, I was going to suggest ‘monkfish’ to you as an alternative protein but… I’m not sure where to find it! I think we’re stuck.

        • Nice idea Laura, but as an ex-pat you should know we don’t eat monkey of any type here in the U.K. and certainly not the fish variety’s cheeks, brains or any other body parts! And what was that stuff he thinned the egg out with? Weird.

        • It looks like I am going to be busy here, offering alternative treatments on the one dish. It will save me thinking up new recipes. I can just change the carb and cook it with black beans. LOL as they say on the interweb.

        • Hm. He’s written ‘water’… but I’m not completely sure what it is. I guess it’s probably similar to alcohol. I might just substitute gin or something like that. And yes, silly me… I guess the monkey fish cheeks do sound a little strange; but then again, Conor always knows what he’s going on about. Conor, yes, any alternative versions are always welcome! But, well… I can’t find black beans!

  • Chicken, eh? Not sure if we can get this in England. Sounds very nice though. Love those pouring shots too! Any recommendation for a substitute protein? 😉

    • We but josh, Conor. You are the mountain of knowledge and we are fortunate enough to sit in your foothills and listen. And pass the odd cheeky comment from the back, but only out of fondness and deep respect 😉

      • Thanks be to goodness you got that out there Adam. I was beginning to wonder if I was being taken seriously for once…

        • You are definitely a fantastic cook Conor. I’ve been enjoying this clueless banter but this (and the monkfish version) is a fantastic recipe that’s easy to follow and surely delicious! Thanks for accommodating the complainers too… in your usual, fantastically witty way. Love your work!!

          • Too kind Laura, too kind. That gets you off the hook.

        • sorry for interrupting…so…I can use alcohol if I can’t get water?…Just kidding! You all made me laugh and I truly enjoy reading every word in this post! 🙂 This is such a great stir-fry dish. And the dry fermented black bean is a gem. Much much better then the paste version. And the rice wine adds magic to it all….Danny

          • Thanks Danny. A tasty dish and a fun post for me.

  • Fabulous chicken Conor! And I can get monkfish cheeks 🙂 The best thing is to please yourself and you’ll end up pleasing others. Or not. Works for me 🙂 More plates! You can never have too many.

    • Excellent approach Rosemary. I have to admit to securing some new (very old) knives, spoons, forks and one tin plate at a recent car boot sale. I had great difficulty with one stall-holder trying to buy one fork. He insisted that I wanted six. I explained that I didn’t as I only wanted to photograph one dish. He then offered to sell me the six and give me a full refund when I came back with them, having photographed the one. Too complicated by far for me. We failed to do business.

      • I know Conor. That’s been my problem also, trying to buy one of each. But I keep trying and sometimes succeed 🙂

  • That looks great, though no problem here getting Monkfish 😉

    • Indeed MD. The opening comments were not aimed at you. I know you to have lines of supply of which many of us are envious.

  • What if I can’t find that brand of ginger beer?

    • You could make your own. In fact, I might give that a go and blame you for the mess when it does not work out!

  • This looks delicious! So colourful and vibrant!

    • Thank you! The first completely appreciative comment of the post. I was right about the ingrates.

  • Oh Connor! Don’t take offence… I appreciate all you do for us, even if your ingredients are way out there!

  • Love the nonsense and the dish Conor! Looks lovely as usual! b

    • Thanks Barb. That proves you read to the very last line…

      • Always do! 🙂 Check out my chicken post slated for release tomorrow a.m….

  • I know what you mean about chopping the lemongrass: I absolutely love the flavour but find that no matter how much I peel it and mince it I still end up with tiny woody bits in the finished dish. So what I’ve taken to doing now is whizzing a few stalks in the food processor with some water and then simmering for around half an hour to make a stock. I freeze the liquid in some ice cube trays and then whenever I want a hit of lemongrass I just throw a few of the cubes into the pan.

    • Hi Stef. Great idea indeed. Though, it does get cooked reasonably soft in this dish. Nice when a bit gets stick in your teeth and you can get a second hit about an hour after eating! (Did I say that. Disgusting!.)

      • Haha. This dish that keeps on giving!

  • I’d go with monk fish cheeks for sure. Pushing the boat out. ( or at least chicken cheeks! )

    • Chicken cheeks. I love the concept but, I suspect that they may be as rare as hens teeth, as the saying goes.

      • Nah! Just kidding – Scary image in my head: a chicken with cheeks and teeth.

  • You can do better than this, Conor 😛
    Chicken breast? Dry and tasteless.
    Peanut oil? I have a friend who is allergic to peanuts; it would kill her if I made this for her!
    I have never seen Boy Brand Soy Sauce for sale. It’s probably easier to find monkfish cheeks.
    And let’s not start about the legendary rice.
    P.S. Boy Band Soy Sauce could be a nice marketing idea. Take That Soy Sauce, Backstreet Boys Soy Sauce, Boyzone Soy Sauce…

    • That could be a fun series of posts Stefan. Boy band recipes. On the plus side, the food would not last long. On the minus side, in time it would be an embarrassment to all, just like most boy bands.

  • A very entertaining read and can I just add that I don’t think we get monkfish here in Susceither…(joke!) I love chicken and I love black bean sauce. The designer in me is very happy to see you matched your chillies to the capsicum strips, yeah we’re totally OCD like that. I just love the pop of colour it adds to your food! 🙂

    • Hate predictive text, how that word came out in place of Australia, I will never know!

      • I was just about to congratulate you on your move…

    • Hi Alice, I should add you to my list…

  • So now I’m an ingrate for not cooking monkfish cheeks?? Well, I’ve never even seen monkfish. As for a wok! I have to use electric…

    Oh, chuckled all the way through the post and comments. Great post btw.

    • Thanks Johnny. Of course, I don’t mean it, do I?

  • Now Conor, methinks your blog begins with: ‘ . . . that man’s views . . . take ’em or leave ’em? Secure masculine statement of fact!! How come our simple first thoughts coming > brain and typed and sent ere we have really analysed ’em perturb you all of a sudden 😀 ! Am making similar chicken to yours for lunch in a moment: moreish, I know !!!! And, honestly, I have every ingredient on the kitchen table . . . . not one complaint and thank you!!!!!!

    • Excellent stuff Eha, you are learning…

      • Huh . . . JFC: so jolly glad I am at last learning 😀 ! You have to give me ‘A’ for persistence!!!!

  • You should have written it like a Chinese menu Connor – choice of pork, chicken or beef (king prawns or Monkfish cheeks £2 extra).

    Also serves to remind me that I must double my efforts to get to a Chinese supermarket for a proper wok. I have wok envy 😉

    • I’m looking forward to your enhanced stir frys Phil. I can’t keep doing this on my own!

  • Haha you used the word ingrates’! Love it. (I’m easily amused, obviously. But I’m going to check for monkfish cheeks when we’re in Mongolia later in the year. Will report back.)

    • Excellent. If you find them, I will withdraw the accusation. If not… You know what, if not!

  • Great post, Conor. Now that you are using ingredients we commoners can find I will have to try this dish. It will have to wait a while, however, because currently we only have 2 colors of chiles in the market, red and green. The rest I can obtain at the Asian market.
    Love the tossing shots and the pouring shots. Baby Lady definitely is going to have to elevate her game.

    • Thanks Richard. Wait till she sees my ‘coup de gras’ in “The Smoker” coming soon to a computer near you!

  • Crikey that was cheeky of people to complain 🙂 Nice recipe but I can’t get black beans….

    • Any Chinese supermarket will do. Next time you are in Dublin, Caterworld on the Nangor Road (just off the M50) will oblige. You have no excuse!

  • Normally I don’t like being called an ingrate, but this time I’ll allow it – because this is one great-looking stir fry (honestly, my stomach just growled), and, as you so kindly pointed out, I feel somewhat responsible for inspiring the chicken. Although we all know that a smart fellow like you would have come to this brilliant alternative on your own. Either way, great dish. And I *always* appreciate your culinary aptitude.

    • Too kind Tommy. Yourself and Mad Dog truly were the inspiration.

  • omg where am I going to find lemongrass in the midwestern United States, that great healthy food desert?

    totally jealous that you can find such things as monkfish cheeks.

    • If that’s the case Trish, you have to move.

  • Having never seen the sea, a farm or even a real chicken I’ll take your word for it that fish have cheeks. Seems a bit far fetched though. I mean do they have butts too?

    • Puts me in mind fo the old W C Fields line; “I never drink water. Fish fornicate in it.”

  • Hello again, Mr. Iron chef ! (The bestest one I’ve ever come across) Just stopped by to let you know that I love you ♥

    • Thanks Nusrat, You have made my day!

  • I think I might have complained about the lack of monk fish cheeks here too. I will be complaining about a lot of other ingredients that you will be using in the future. Just as your daughter, she will tell you how much is available here in STJ. I’m glad you ignored my complaints!

    • When the complaints are put in such a mannerly and gently way, I don’t even recognise them as such. Keep complaining!

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