Bean Curd with Fermented Black Beans

I don’t know how it happened, but it’s October. I keep thinking it’s, like, July. Many vegan bloggers will be celebrating October through Vegan MoFo, whereas I will probably be doing a Vegan NoMoFo this October. It’s just going to be busy. Fortunately most of my busyness is related to October being the best month of the year: my birthday, Smark’s birthday, our anniversary, Halloween, and this year, a trip to San Francisco for me! I’ll be lucky if I can make a post once a week, let alone once a day, this month. I did manage to whip up a post tonight, though!

I don’t know if it’s because the days are getting shorter – I hate driving home from work in the dark – but I’ve been feeling more and more pressured to get home and get dinner on the table earlier, while not bothering to drag myself out of bed any earlier in order to make that possible. (It’s too cold in the mornings to get up!) Dinner, therefore, ends up being less creative and less good (and less blog-worthy). Tonight I knew I was going to use some of my homemade tofu in a stir fry and planned to stop by Super H and pick up some exotic Chinese veggies – gai lan or something of that sort – to accompany it, but once en route (hence en traffic), I realized I didn’t feel like going a couple of miles out of my way to go to Super H and decided to use up the boring old veggies I had in the fridge. And the following was born:

Bean Curd with Fermented Black Beans

Fermented (or preserved) black beans are one of my favorite ingredients and are available at most Asian grocery stores. They are actually soy beans (not black beans), and are rather salty. There really isn’t a substitute for them that I can think of, although if you can’t find them in bean form, you can probably find black bean paste or sauce, which are fermented black beans that have been mushed up into paste or sauce form.

2 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 bell pepper (any colour), chopped
10 oz extra firm tofu (preferably homemade), chopped
thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated or minced
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 Tbsp fermented black beans
2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry, or even sake)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp black vinegar
1 Tbsp chili garlic paste
1/2 cup vegan broth, any flavor
2 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp cold water

Place the fermented black beans, wine, soy sauce, and vinegar in a small bowl and stir. Set aside.

Prep all the veggies and tofu.

Heat a wok over medium high heat and add some peanut oil. When it’s hot, add the carrots and stir fry for a minute.

Add the garlic and ginger, fry for a few seconds.

Add the celery and stir fry for a minute or two.

Add the bell pepper and stir fry another minute or two.

Add the tofu and chili paste; stir fry for yet another minute or two (the advantage of making your own tofu is you can make it as firm as you like so it won’t crumble when stir-fried).

Pour in the fermented black bean mixture and stir.

Pour in the broth and bring to a boil.

Whisk together the cornstarch and cold water, pour into the wok and stir as it thickens the broth and coats the veggies and tofu.

Serve with brown rice.

This wasn’t the most exciting meal in the world, but it was fast, used up stuff from the fridge, and is healthy. Mine came out just on the cusp of saltiness I can tolerate, but that’s because I used about 3 tablespoons of the fermented black beans (I reduced it to 2 tablespoons in the recipe). You can rinse the beans before using to reduce the saltiness. I usually don’t bother, but I think the next time I use so much of them, I’ll either rinse them or reduce/eliminate the soy sauce.

I visited the parental homestead on Saturday and my mom gave me a framed photo of my great-grandmother, the one to whom I’m nearly certain my beloved cast iron skillet used to belong, and which I hung on the kitchen wall so she can be near her skillet:

I really like the homey atmosphere it adds to the kitchen and I’m still really tickled to have her skillet. Unfortunately, Mark keeps demanding that I serve him coffee like an “obedient wife”, as she’s doing to my great-grandfather. (My response to Mark is not fit for a public blog.)


  1. Josiane Said,

    October 1, 2009 @ 10:13 pm

    Maybe not the most exciting meal ever, but it still looks very good!

    Mark’s reaction to your great-grandparents’ picture is funny, though it would certainly be funnier if it wasn’t so predictable… Come on, Mark, can’t you think of something better? 😉

  2. Mom Said,

    October 2, 2009 @ 7:32 am

    I have what is left of the china set they are using in the picture. It seems very fragile, so this picture must have been taken on a special occasion.

  3. Jain Said,

    October 2, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

    I disagree about the excitement level of your meal; my mouth is watering over your photos. Haven’t tried fermented beans but I’m all about salt so I’m sure I’ll love them. I need to find an Asian market.

    It’s a great photo. I think it’s okay to serve one’s mate coffee…as long as the favor is appropriately reciprocated in some fashion. ;o)

  4. Chris Said,

    October 2, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

    just wanted to say, your blog rules! i look forward to your posts. you take awesome pics. too! i have all the ingredients for this for a change, so i’m gonna give it a shot. thanks.

  5. Ksenia Said,

    October 4, 2009 @ 4:27 am

    Oh dear, where has gone my comment? =O I assure you that I left a comment >..< We have our univertsity entrance exams in June, so all our teachers are already hurring us up =S

  6. Ksenia Said,

    October 4, 2009 @ 4:31 am

    I think I have deleted half of my previous comment before posting it, because it didn’t appear whole u_u

    In my (again) missed comment, I was telling you that I have not forget about your drawing :))

    Are fermented black beans the same as miso? I have never seen fermented black beans, but I have some miso lying in the fridge. Do you think it would work or the taste is too different?

  7. Jes Said,

    October 4, 2009 @ 9:24 pm

    That photo of your great grandmother is priceless!

    And hey, your busyness sounds super fun–much better than work busyness or busyness of other bad/mundane kinds. How about a half-Mofo in April?

  8. Mo Said,

    October 5, 2009 @ 12:33 am

    This is awesome! Looks great.

  9. renae Said,

    October 5, 2009 @ 12:04 pm


    The concept of fermented black beans is similar to miso (they are both fermented soybeans – well, most miso is made with soybeans), but they are pretty different products and I think the dish would taste pretty different, but that may be because I have it in my head that miso is very Japanese and fermented black beans are very Chinese and I just can’t marry the two. If you can’t find Chinese black bean sauce to use instead, I’d probably say just skip the fermented black beans. The other problem with using miso is they say boiling it kills the healthful enzymes it contains and it’d be pretty hard to add miso to a hot wok and not have it reach those temperatures almost immediately. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t taste good though (and I’ve noticed that just about every source says that some mysterious “they” claims boiling kills the enzymes; no one ever backs the claim up, so I’m not even sure it’s true). It’s just never occurred to me to add miso to a stir fry!

  10. Vegan Traveler Said,

    November 1, 2009 @ 12:34 pm

    Hi! I just got back from Asheville and ate at “Doc Chey’s” twice. They serve black beans in a few dishes. I’d highly recommend their resturant and wish they were in my home town. I don’t know why I haven’t thought to use black beans in a recipe. I’m going to try this dish and then post a link to your awesome instructions. Thanks!
    PS: I like the look on your Great Grandfather’s face as he watches her pour the tea getting ready to say “That’s fine honey! You can stop pouring now.” She could so easily over pour. Thanks for sharing it.

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