Saturday, May 01, 2010

Steamed Fish and Tofu with Chinese Black Beans


We weren't even going to post about this dish at all, as it was something JS threw together very quickly to feed the household. However, we made this twice in two weeks, so perhaps there's something to this dish after all.

It seems that we are skewing very home-style for our recent Weekend Wokking entries.

There's a pattern going on with our household meals, a pattern I find a bit weird myself. If a dish goes over well in our household, I tend to repeat it within the next two weeks. Maybe I'm subconsciously checking if the first time was a fluke or not? After repeating the dish, it then falls into the black hole of my memory, who knows when to be resurrected again.

I wanted to get some fish onto our table last week, seeing we had gone fish-less at home for a couple of weeks now. The lucky fish of the week is sole, conveniently already in fillets. I didn't want to muck around with flour and butter and do some sort of batch-cookery, so sole meunière was out of the question.

Besides, given my usual hurry and impatience to get dinner done, a delicate fish like sole will usually be manhandled to pieces.

So, I thought, why not just steam the fillets the Chinese way, with some ginger, scallions, Shaoxing wine, and black beans? It's easy and the sole fillets gets to the table unscathed.

Black Beans

These are actually soy beans that have been dried/fermented/salted. These are the beans that are used to make black bean sauce (usually available prepared in jars), like in Stir-fried Pork with Black Bean Sauce, or in Clams in Black Bean Sauce. Chinese Food - Fermented Black Beans

Tofu, Two Kinds

sole with soft tofu

The first time JS made the dish, we had soft tofu on hand. We layered the soft tofu and the sole fillets. When the dish finished cooking, the tofu and fish have become one: each piece consisted layers of fish and tofu.

sole with firm Northern-style tofu

The second time, we used Northern-style tofu (as seen here). In this case, JS simply added the tofu cubes into the dish without the fancy layering.

For this dish, I'm thinking most any kind of tofu would work -- and there are a lot of different kinds available.

I didn't even have to get the steamer out, as I just put the ingredients in a big enough platter, covered the whole thing with Saran-wrap, and microwaved until done.

Serve with white rice and some green vegetables and it's quite a healthy, hassle-free weeknight meal.

Steamed Fish and Tofu with Chinese Black Beans

8 sole fillets
1 2" piece of ginger, cut into slivers
2 stalks green onions, cut into slivers
cilantro (optional)
1 tbsp black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 bird's eye chili
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 blocks tofu, in thick slices or in big cubes

Quantities serve as a guide. Feel free to adjust the amount of ingredients according to your taste.

Place all ingredients onto a platter. Steam until fish is done. Alternatively, cover with plastic wrap and microwave until fish is cooked through.

Serve with white rice and green vegetables.

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eatingclub vancouver Weekend Wokking posts:
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Eggplant "Clafouti"
Pumpkin Congee w/ Pumpkin "Beignets" & Sesame-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese w/ Pipián Verde
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Almond Eggplant "Bisteeya" (Bastilla)
"Mashed Potato Beef Burger" (Red-skinned Potato Salad in Taiwanese Sacha Cheeseburger)
Korean Soybean Sprouts Pancake (Kongnamul Jeon)
Lemon Chamomile Tiramisu
Cilantro Horchata
Strawberry Cilantro Salsa, on Grilled Flank Steak
Duck Enchiladas with Chipotle Peanut Salsa
Clear Oxtail Soup with Corn, Cabbage and Potatoes
Beijing Pickled Cabbage
Salsa Romesco ("Queen of the Catalan Sauces!")
Aguadito de Pollo (Peruvian Chicken Soup)
Bangus Belly à la Bistek (Milkfish Belly with Onions, Calamansi and Soy Sauce)
White Pork with Garlic Sauce, Two Ways (蒜泥白肉)
Mr. Zheng's Soupy Tomatoes and Eggs with Tofu (蕃茄雞蛋跟豆腐)
Steamed Fish and Tofu with Chinese Black Beans
Spinach and Cheese with Puff Pastry, Three Ways

We're submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks celebrating the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient.

The host this month is Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf.

If you would like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check
who's hosting next month.

Check out
all Weekend Wokking Roundups.


  1. This sounds like a super tasty stir fry..and healthy too with the steamed fish and tofu. My kind of meal.

  2. I do the repeating thing too. Love steamed fish with black beans! Haven't had that in awhile.

  3. This looks very tasty; I got to admit, I have never used the fermented black beans and the tofu I buy I have no idea if it is southern or northern!

  4. I'm totally intrigued by the preserved black beans, because I've always wanted to try them. I've seen them in bags (like yours) where they looked rather dry, or also in jars where they looked a bit saucier but weren't sold as black bean sauce. What is the texture like? Is it firm and dry, like a salted caper, or soft and squishy? So curious!

  5. I like that you combine the tofu into the dish - it kinda balances up the "saltiness" from the black beans...I enjoy such a dish with steamed rice.

  6. Joanne:
    In fact, it's even easier than a stir-fry!

    Now, talking about steamed fish, it reminds me that I haven't had Cantonese steamed fish in a while. Mmmm.

    The black beans give off a predominantly salty taste. As for the tofu, this was the first time we've seen this "Northern-style" tofu being sold. Usually we just choose the firmness (soft, firm, extra-firm).

    Choosy Beggar Tina:
    Oh, I don't know if I've seen them "wetter" but not a "sauce." Oh wait, I think I have, usually in cans.

    Anyway, they can be used as the main flavor of a dish (like in this case), or in some Chinese dishes, as "seasoning". (That is, perhaps only a teaspoon or tablespoon used for an entire dish.)

    They're mostly salty. As for the texture, I hadn't thought about this, actually, because once used in a dish, I tend not to regard them as individual entities within that dish. They more or less "give themselves" to the dish. But, definitely soft. I tend not to even notice them when shoving spoonfuls of whatever-dish into my mouth.

    Yeah, the "blandless" of the tofu really worked well with the black beans! Steamed rice is a must, of course. =)

  7. Yes, I adore both adding the tofu and pairing a chili with the black beans.

  8. TasteHongKong:
    The tofu really needs the black beans in this case. =)


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