Black Pepper Chicken is a classic and very easy side dish to make for a weeknight dinner. Here’s a quick recipe!
A Black Pepper Chicken Recipe that’s
- Takes 10 mins
- Prepared in one pot
- Perfect for weeknights
- Uses mostly store cupboard ingredients
- Easily adaptable for vegans/ vegetarians(see below)
Black Pepper Chicken is one of my favorite dishes. Okay no, that’s a lie. In full disclosure, I hardly ever order chicken dishes out, not unless I can specify that I’d like breast meat.
I can tell you tales about how my trust in waiters has been broken repeatedly, and internationally, on many occasions. It goes like this: I ask for breast meat in my chicken dish, the waiter nods like everything is possible even if I had asked for his kidney (ew!). Then comes a fat piece of thigh meat that I cannot return.
It’s for this reason I can only truly taste the wonders of combinations like black pepper and chicken when I make it at home. Having waxed lyrical about my love for breast meat in many posts, including this one, I did make this with a fair portion of both thigh and breast meat. I mean hey, I am a home cook and I have more than just my mouth to feed! If anyone should understand an appetite for a particular cut of meat, it would be me!
Pepper it good
This is a black pepper chicken dish. Literally, it has 3 whole tablespoons of pepper, ground to a coarse powder with a pestle and mortar then added, generously, to the hot wok. You cannot, I repeat, cannot get the same taste with store-bought black pepper powder. These ready-milled options are usually more powder than pepper and make the whole dish taste more floury.
That’s just me though; I’d like to think I’m somewhat of a shortcut maven but even I think it’s worth crushing your own whole black peppercorns for this dish. In essence, this dish has a very large amount of crushed black pepper, and therefore yields a somewhat spicy side that gets spicier as you make your way through it. You have been warned, and kindly advised, to reduce the amount of pepper to suit your taste.
Have it as a side
This is a side dish. There, I said it. Now, I know the western concept of meat usually has it as the star of the show (steak, anyone?). But in Asia, we have this lovely concept of Tze Char, which is to say a variety of dishes with rice. It’s not shocking, therefore, that this dish goes great with rice.
If you’re reading from the western part of the world and would like this to be a main, go for it! I would recommend throwing the black pepper chicken cubes on some salad leaves, peppering it (don’t mind the sad pun) with broken pieces of feta and then diving in with love and delight.
If you’re Asian and need rice, meat and vegetables all in one plate, then you can of course consume this as how it was intended; with nasi.
I recognise and appreciate my vegan and vegetarian followers, thank you for all the support and for always asking me how you can adapt my recipes to suit your dietary needs. Here are some ways you can change up this recipe for vegan and vegetarian diets. Essentially, this would involve replacing the chicken with any or a combination of the following ingredients:
- Chickpeas (soaked and boiled, the canned ones will just become mush)
- Tofu (fried or baked beforehand to toughen its exterior)
- Tempeh + Tofu (similar to sambal goreng)
- Vegan meat substitutes (I recommend Quorn)
Indian or Chinese?
Given all the drama around racism in Singapore, I feel the need to address if this is either Indian or Chinese. There are many recipes on youtube and on the net that show eager cooks how to adapt and make this the ‘Chinese’ or ‘Indian’ way. Honestly, it doesn’t matter where this recipe comes from, or who it belongs to.
Having said this, this recipe is similar to the dishes you’ll find in most Indian restaurants when you order black pepper chicken. Regardless, it’s still as tasty as the kind you’d find in a Chinese mixed rice stall.
Craving other chicken dishes? Here are some of my favourites!
- Thai Yellow Dry Curry
- Dry Chicken Curry Noodles
- Chiang Mai Chicken Curry
- Chicken Pulao
- Spicy Roasted Soya Chicken
This dish has minimal prep work, though it does require a little bit of heavy lifting. You need the pestle and mortar, a mainstay in most Asian kitchens, to help crack the black peppercorns. If you don’t have this, you can use a simple pepper mill. Just make sure to crack 3 tablespoons of peppercorns and set aside before you start, so you’re not cracking this a bit at a time over the hot stove.
Chop your onions, ginger and garlic with a food chopper. It saves so much time, especially at the end of the work day. You can choose to of course slice or chop this by hand and save on the washing up. Whichever apparatus you use, you’ll need to cut them somehow, and set aside.
I used coconut oil here because I love the flavour and it has a healthy food factor. You can easily use olive oil here, or flavourless vegetable oil like canola or sunflower.
This is essentially a stir-fried recipe, so make sure you have your dishes prepared and ready to go before you start. Chop the aromatics, get your spices at the ready and have your chicken on standby. Once this starts going, you’ll need to just keep adding the ingredients in.
Making the Black Pepper Chicken
In a large skillet over medium heat, pour out the oil. When the oil is hot, add the teaspoon of mustard seeds.
When the seeds start popping, add the chopped onion, garlic and ginger. Cook them until well combined, soft and mushy.
Then, add the chilli and curry leaves, followed by the turmeric. Cook for 1 minute, then add the cracked black pepper.
Cook this for 3 mins, to take the raw edge off the pepper. Then, add the chicken cubes, stir through and then cover to cook for 7 to 12 mins. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the lid, put the flame on high and continue cooking till the dish becomes dry and some of the chicken is charred in places. This should take a further 10 mins.
Black Pepper Chicken RecipeCourse: MainCuisine: AsianDifficulty: Easy
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 Tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Large Onion, peeled and chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1-inch Ginger, peeled and chopped
2 Chilli Padi, sliced lengthwise
2 Stalks Curry Leaves, leaves only
½ Tsp Turmeric Powder
3 Tbsp Black Peppercorns, freshly cracked
600g Chicken, cubed
Salt, to taste
You’ll need to;
- In a large skillet over medium heat, pour out the oil. When the oil is hot, add the teaspoon of mustard seeds. When the seeds start popping, add the chopped onion, garlic and ginger. Cook them until well combined, soft and mushy. Then, add the chilli and curry leaves, followed by the turmeric. Cook for 1 minute, then add the cracked black pepper.
- Cook this for 3 mins, to take the raw edge off the pepper. Then, add the chicken cubes, stir through and then cover to cook for 7 to 12 mins. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the lid, put the flame on high and continue cooking till the dish becomes dry and some of the chicken is charred in places. This should take a further 10 mins.
- Serve warm with curry. I would recommend something mellow, like Sothi.
- Use tofu, tempeh or even chickpeas as vegan alternatives to the chicken
- Store-bought black pepper powder will not work, you’ll have to find a way to mill or crack the peppers for full flavour
- Use a different oil if you find the taste of coconut oil too strong
- Leave out the chilli if you’re sensitive to heat; the pepper is fiery here
- To experiment, try a combination of black, white and pink peppercorns