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Sunday, 18 May 2008

in praise of black bean sauces (WHB#133: soy beans)

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summary: recipes for stir-fried broccoli with black bean sauce, black bean chili sauce, peanut chili sauce; making a knockoff sauce; information about fermented black beans and Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB)

broccoli Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB)#133
Black Beans (Glycine max)

One of my favourite Asian dishes is stir-fried broccoli with black beans. Instead of buying jars of black bean sauce, we make the sauce with Chinese dried fermented black beans. Soy beans, that is.

Mmmmm, fermented black beans!! Their pungent, slightly sour saltiness is delicious!

chili sauces Or we make chili sauces with the black beans and/or peanuts to use as condiments. And what condiments they are! In spite of the heat, I can eat this stuff by the spoonful like jam.

(click on images for larger views and more photos)

jar lid We used to buy these in jars from Chinatown. The jars always made me a tiny bit nervous because invariably, the “best before” date was long gone. But the flavour of these condiments was too fabulous to care about the “best before” date for long. And the contents of the jars were always long gone before we could worry too much about the date.

Happily, I am married to the brilliant kind of person who can taste something and then, armed with an ingredient list (or not), waltz into the kitchen and pretty much reproduce it.

Here’s what T does to make these favourites of mine:

broccoli with black bean sauce . black bean chili sauce . peanut chili sauce

Broccoli with Black Beans

  • vegetable oil
  • chili flakes
  • ginger, chopped
  • garlic, chopped
  • dried salted black beans, roughly chopped
  • broccoli, chopped in bite size pieces
  • water, optional

preparation

  1. Heat oil in wok. (We use safflower or sunflower oil.)
  2. Add chilli flakes and cook until slightly dark.
  3. Add garlic and ginger and cook until softened.
  4. Add the black beans and cook a few minutes.
  5. Add broccoli and stir to cover with oil. Add a little water if you want. Turn heat down to low; cover with a lid and allow to simmer til broccoli is a dente (3 to 5 minutes)

Serve immediately with jaggery chicken. Or with chicken (or pork) and peanuts in hoisin sauce. And rice, of course. Broccoli with black beans can also be made by simply steaming broccoli and adding black bean chili sauce:

Black Bean Chili Sauce

  • ¼ c vegetable oil
  • ¼ c onion, minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp chili flakes (more or less)
  • ¼ c dried salted black beans, roughly chopped
  • seasalt, optional

preparation

  1. Heat oil to medium high in a frying pan.
  2. Add chilli flakes and cook until slightly dark.
  3. Add onion and cook to translucent.
  4. Add ginger and cook until softened.
  5. Add the black beans and cook a few minutes.
  6. Place in a bowl to cool. Test for salt and add more oil to cover if necessary.*

Peanut Chili Sauce

  • ¼ c vegetable oil
  • ¼ c onion, minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp chili flakes (more or less)
  • ¼ c roasted, salted peanuts
  • seasalt, optional

preparation

  1. Heat oil to medium high in a frying pan.
  2. Add chilli flakes and cook until slightly dark.
  3. Being careful not to burn, add peanuts and cook until they just begin to turn color.
  4. Add onion and cook to translucent.
  5. Add ginger and cook until softened.
  6. Place in a bowl to cool. Test for salt and add more oil to cover if necessary.*
* Remember – these are condiments and should be salty and oily.

Each different chili sauce started out the same way because we wanted to test the difference between one with beans and one with peanuts. More or less chili flakes can be used if desired. Minced garlic might be a good addition.

Serve the chili sauces as condiments. They are wonderful in Asian Noodle Soup as well. Or with fried rice. Or with chicken that has been roasted on a bed of onions or mushrooms in a claypot and then served over rice. Or in a chicken sandwich. Or….

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB#133)
Black Beans (Glycine max)

black beans weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen Black beans!! No, not turtle beans. Soy beans that have been salted and fermented til they are dark dark brown or black. The beans are quite soft, rather dry and very salty.

These are slightly pungent with a hint of a sour taste. And did I mention that they are salty? Even so, they are the perfect thing to go into a stir-fried dish, especially if it will be accompanying a dish made with hoisin or jaggery.

According to the nutritional information on our package, fermented black beans are a source of fibre, iron and calcium.

Dried salted soy beans are available in many Chinese grocery stores. They are often sold in packages but some stores sell them in bulk.

Please read more about black soy beans:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WHB is on the road again and this week’s host is Gay (A Scientist in the Kitchen). The deadline for entering WHB#133 is Sunday 18 May 2008 at 15:00, Utah time (GMT-7). For complete details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging, please see the following:

 

4 Comments for in praise of black bean sauces (WHB#133: soy beans)” »

  1. Comment by Kalyn — 18 May 2008 @ 21:19 EDT

    Very interesting. I haven’t had this type of black beans except in a restaurant, but I think all your recipes sound just fabulous. (And what a talented husband you have too!)

  2. Pingback by A scientist in the kitchen » Blog Archive » Herbs and more herbs… Weekend Herb Blogging # 133 Round-up — 19 May 2008 @ 22:23 EDT

    [...] Elizabeth of blog from OUR kitchen shares with us her favorite Chinese stir fry – broccoli with black beans. [...]

  3. Comment by MyKitchenInHalfCups — 20 May 2008 @ 04:41 EDT

    You have a very interesting site!
    Thanks so much for stopping by my site.
    Love your bread section. Even with a machine, I find I knead most often by hand. I just enjoy it. You’ve got great bread books.
    Lucky you to have a guy who can reproduce dishes. Broccoli and these black beans sound wonderfully good!

  4. Comment by ejm — 20 May 2008 @ 12:25 EDT

    It was my pleasure, MKIHC! I know I’ll be stopping by your site again and again. Thank YOU for stopping in here and for your kind words about my bread section. I know what you mean about hand kneading. It really is a pleasure, isn’t it? And the cleanup is so much less taxing!

    I really am incredibly lucky to have found such a wonderful man (although, I like to think it was skill on my part too. :-)) Kalyn, do look in the Asian section of your markets for these black beans. They’re really great. (For lunch, we had chicken sandwiches with black bean sauce – too delicious!!)

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