Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

Depending on your preference, you can make this Cantonese dish with asparagus or bell peppers. Serve with hot rice and garnish with cilantro sprigs, if you like.

In a bowl, stir together cornstarch, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the water, and sherry. Add chicken and stir to coat; then stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil and let marinate for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare Cooking Sauce and set aside. Seed bell peppers and cut into 1-inch squares. (Or snap off and discard touch ends of asparages; cut spears; cut spears into 1/2-inch slices.)

Place a wok over high heat; when wok is hot, add 1 tablespoons of the oil. When oil begins to heat, add black beans and garlic; stir once. Add chicken mixture and stir-fry until meat is no longer pink in center; cut to test (about 3 minutes). Remove from wok and set aside.

Pour remaining 1 tablespoon oil into wok; when oil is hot, add bell peppers and onion and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add remaining 1 tablespoon water and cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender-crisp to bite--2 to 4 more minutes. (If using asparagus, add 2 tablespoons water; cook, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes.)

Cooking Sauce:

Stir together 1 tablespoon each soy sauce and cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and 1/3 cup regular-strength chicken broth or water.