black bean chicken (dou chi ji ding) + a multicultural dinner with neighbors

this weekend dirt bike man and i got to host a dinner for our next door neighbors!  i asked dirt bike man if i could invite crazy neighbor lady over too so i could meet her, but he wasn't so keen on that idea.

our neighbors' family is one of the most multicultural i have seen (and it makes me excited).  the lady who owns the house is a jewish russian.  her daughter and daughter's husband (modelo man), who is from mexico city and their 3 kids also live in the house.

russian neighbor lady brought over her version of borscht--in which, dirt bike man and i kept saying the word boooorscccht in our best russian accents several times after they left because it's too fun.  

modelo man brought over rolled tacos & salsa and his wife made a nice salad.

i have also never whipped up a banana bread so fast in my life, but a dinner with new people usually warrants a last min decision like that (good thing i had a banana graveyard in my freezer).  and of course i made one of my go-to's, black bean chicken.

dinner was a little awkward at first.  granted, these are the neighbors we have only waved 'hi' to until we needed to tell them there was a little property intrusion on our yard when we decided to put in a fence for puppy.  luckily, dirt bike man is a good negotiator and also invited them all over for dinner sometime.  food fixes things.

conversation got better as soon as modelo man had a few more modelos and dirt bike man showed the kids how fred, our chameleon, eats crickets.  then russian neighbor lady asked if fred was a boy or girl.

"well...fred is a girl, but we named him before we knew that."

-russian accent- "oh, the kids have a hamster they thought was a boy...1st he was peter, now he's a rosie...he is bisexual."

the family members gave each other shifty eyes as dirt bike man and i lost it.  our laughter put them at ease as they soon started to giggle too.

russian lady disappeared a few moments later and her daughter said, "she is checking on her pie".  PIE!  OMG PIE!

she came over with a apple, tart cherry and cranberry pie and all was even better. we exchanged desserts and good-byes.  i also came to find out that banana bread was the little girl's favorite as she sat across the table from me literally making nom-nom-nom-nom sounds.

i asked if they would like to take banana bread home, only to see banana bread girl, on the floor, putting on her light-up sketchers and shaking her head 'yes' as fast as possible. 


black bean chicken

serves 8


8 boneless chicken thighs

2 green bell peppers

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

5 T oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

an equal amount of ginger, minced

4 T fermented black beans, rinsed & drained

4 t chili flakes

4 T sliced scallions

4 t sesame oil


4 T shaoxing wine

1 T salt

3 t cornstarch

1 T light soy sauce

1 T dark soy sauce


1) cut chicken into a 3/4" x 3/4" dice and place into a bowl.  mix together marinade ingredients and add to chicken.  stir well.

2) cut the peppers into a 1" x 1" dice.

3) heat a wok or skillet on high, add 2 T of oil and cook peppers until hot, slightly cooked, but still crispy.  remove and set aside.

4) reheat wok or skillet on high and add 3 T of oil.  add the chicken and cook until chicken becomes pale.  add the garlic and ginger.  cook chicken completely. 

5) add the peppers back in, along with the chili flakes & black beans.  Stir.

6) drizzle sesame seed oil around the high edges of the wok.

7) Add scallions right before serving and stir.