You’ve probably had chicken/prawns/beef in black bean sauce at your local chinese and probably even attempted to make it at home using a jarred black bean sauce that you’ve picked up at the supermarket but have you ever made it from scratch?
Most people don’t know that the chinese black bean is actually a black soy bean(see above picture) which has been fermented. It is often called fermentated black bean and can be easily found in any good Asian supermarket (see picture below). If you live in or around Glasgow I’d recommend going to Lim’s in 63 Cambridge street, Glasgow. Mr Lim who owns the shop is originally from Malaysia and is very very helpful. Just ask him what you’re looking for or wanting to make and he will steer you right.
The black soy beans are packed in salt and left to ferment. Once you open the pack and taken what you need, put the rest of the beans in a glass jar and keep it in the fridge. It will keep forever! The salt acts as a natural preservative and gives it a very long shelf life.
Although these beans are most associated with Chinese Cantonese cooking, they are used in one form or another all over South East Asia. If you have never seen them in their raw form, you will be quite surprised at the pungent smell when you open the pack! Always make sure you rinse them well before using them in any dish and don’t be tempted to add salt to the dish until you’ve tasted it. A little goes a long way with these beans. Once you’ve tried them you’ll understand why they are so loved. They bring the most incredible savoury, umami taste to any dish.
Today I’m making the ever popular Beef in Black Bean sauce but don’t be afraid to try other recipes using these incredible flavour busters. How about braised ribs with black bean and dark soy, or even fried rice with a sneaky teaspoon of mashed black beans working their magic in the background.
• 350g sliced popeseye or sirloin
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• ½ small onion, finely diced
• 5 baby corn, sliced in half lengthways
• 10 green beans, trimmed
• 5-8 mushrooms quartered
• 2 tsp black beans – rinsed and mashed with the back of the spoon
• 2 tbp light soy
• 1 tbp oyster sauce
• 1 tbp rice wine – or dry sherry – optional
• 125ml water
• 1 tbp corn starch
• Black pepper
– Heat 1tsp oil in a pan –high heat
– In a bowl mix the black beans, light soy, oyster sauce and rice wine.
– In another bowl mix the corn starch with 2 tbps cold water.
– Sauté onions and garlic till soft.
– Add beef and stir fry for 1 min.
– Add the veg and stir fry for 1 min.
– Pour the light soy mixture over the beef and mix well.
– Add about 100ml water and leave to reduce down.
– After about 2 mins add the cornstarch mixture and mix well.
– The beef and veg should be cooked by now and the sauce should have thickened. Add some black pepper and turn the heat off. If you feel it needs more cooking, keep it on the heat but make sure to add a little more water so that it doesn’t dry out.
– Serve immediately with steamed rice.
Generally its a sirloin that most people use however, after talking to John (the local farmer from Overton Farm) I decided to follow his advice and used the popeseye steak(or popeye steak as I call it lol). He reckons its the best cut for this dish.