For years I've wondered how restaurants make their black bean sauce. The black beans I knew were always the basic dried or canned black beans... I like them quite a bit but think of them as bland compared to the Chinese sauce.
The Secret...fermented black beans!
Here's how to start making this sauce at home.
Step 1: The Beans
Our green beans come from 6 plants I added late in the season to a bed in the front yard. The green beans were planted in the worst section of soil with seeds from a neighbor. From six plants we get a solid handful every 3-4 days... We've had this production all through august (1 month) and I expect another 3-4 weeks into the fall.
The fermented black beans are easy to pickup in any Asian specialty store. The kind shown sell for between $2-6 for an 8oz or $5 online for a full 16oz. This is the same brand Jess's mother gave us after a recent visit.
Step 2: Oil + Beans
We add the beans directly to the oil... This may not be the best way... I've since started adding them the same way I add onions and salt to most dishes... basically along with every other ingredient.
The Oil... I'm using the last of my rendered chicken fat (or shmaltz) saved from the last fall soup.
Step 3: Add Beans
This batch is pretty sturdy... typically they don't take too long to cook but this batch needed some extra time.
Step 4: Optional Squash Add
We added some of our Patty Pan Squash. This is a beautiful summer squash that is equally good raw as it is soaking up flavor in the pan.
Step 5: Spiced Up
We added both a half of serrano pepper from a friend's garden and a schezuan peppercorn infused oil.
Step 6: Steamed and Finished
We added some water to re-energize the sauce. Seasoning often starts to stick to the pan and a little water goes a long way to bring it back to life.
From there we dust with white pepper ---i think we only have the white pepper because of the cute little chickadee on the label... I haven't tried a pepper I don't like and would simply buy the lowest priced
Step 7: Enjoy!
Such a simple dish! For years I though there was some mystery. Can't wait for the eggplants to get a little larger and try cooking them in this sauce.
Hope this helps you feel more confident in the kitchen and to throw a few beans in the ground. I'm saving a few of the early beans that have already dried... The bean plants are known to fix nitrogen in the soil... meaning they don't need much. I'll plant 10-14 plant next year and haven plenty for canning.
Thanks for reading!
Here are a few more from the garden: