Broiled Yard-Long Beans in Spicy Black Bean Sauce (B)

March 30, 2006 at 3:27 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Chinese, Sauce/dressing)

I read about Chinese long beans (or yard-long beans) in a Chinese vegetarian cookbook I checked out of the library ages ago, and decided to try them when I passed them in the Asian grocery in the Strip District. They’re not actually a whole yard long, more like 1.5 feet long. I snapped off the ends because they were a different color, but I’m not sure if I needed to. I tried cooking them using the method Cook’s Illustrated touts for cooking tough supermarket green beans, but I didn’t leave them in long enough so they were still quite crunchy. I put foil down on my cookie sheet before putting them in the oven, and then when using a spatula to remove the green beans the foil kept coming off as well. Next time I should just scoop them off with my hands into a bowl, then add the sauce.

What the long beans look like.

I also got fermented black soybeans at the Strip. I’d heard of fermented black beans before but never realized they are actually soybeans. Is it possible that miso is just pureed fermented black soybeans? I soaked the beans briefly then rinsed them off before adding them to my sauce. I based my recipe mostly on the fermented black bean sauce recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, but adjusted the amounts a bit, and added some chili paste as well:

See a picture of what the fermented black beans look like

Spicy Fermented Black Bean Sauce

2 Tbs. fermented black soybeans, rinsed
1.5? Tbs. ginger, minced
1/2? Tbs. granulated sugar
6? Tbs. sherry
4? Tbs. vegetable broth
2? Tbs. garlic, minced
2? Tbs. soy sauce
1? Tbs. sesame oil
1/2? tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
2? tsp. chili paste

Okay, I’m not certain about most of the amounts, so I’ll have to make it again and double check. What’s listed here is double the original recipe, and it made quite a bit of sauce, more than enough for one bunch of long beans.

Derek really liked the sauce: he said it tasted almost like the sauce in a Chinese restaurant, except it needed to be saltier. I, however, found it plenty salty, but also thought it tasted quite authentic. I’ll definitely be making this sauce again.

The beans seemed a little more starchy and a little less sweet than regular green beans, but that may have just been because I didn’t cook them long enough. I’ll have to try them again.

Rating: B
Derek: B+

Jan 2007: I found another black bean sauce recipe in the cookbook Savoring the Day by Judith Benn Hurley. It suggests putting it over 1 head (about 1 pound) of broccoli, steamed.

  • 1 Tbs. Chinese fermented black beans, rinced and minced
  • 1 tsp. mirin or dry sherry
  • 2 tsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. miso
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. arrowroot
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh chives

Combine all the ingredients except the arrowroot, water, and chives in a small saucepan over high heat and boil until reduced by half, 4 to 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot, water, and chives, pour into the sauce and stir constantly until slightly thickened, about 25 seconds. Remove the sauce from the heat and toss with the broccoli. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

My Notes:

Okay, this was inedible. I don’t know why, but I took one bite and could not take another. I tossed it. Luckily I had only poured the sauce on one serving worth of broccoli, so I just ate the rest of the broccoli with yeast and soy sauce. Much, much, better.

Rating: F

1 Comment

  1. Grant said,

    Hello! I think the problem with the second sauce was its confusion of Chinese and Japanese ingredients. Dry sherry isn’t a substitute for mirin, which is an almost syrupy and sweet Japanese cooking wine. Dry sherry should be the seasoning, I think — or, if you can obtain it, Chinese rice wine (*not* Japanese sake!). I’d leave out the miso and vegetable stock altogether, and replace them with a few reconstituted dried black Chinese mushrooms or wood ears, sliced or torn into pieces, and the soaking liquid (in the case of the mushrooms; the wood ear liquid would be pretty gritty, I think, and in any case not have the flavor of the black mushroom soaking liquid). Instead of chives I’d use scallions.

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