• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

  • product-image-quickten.png.a40203b506711f7664fc62024e54a584.pngDid you know that these all-volunteer forums are operated by the 501(c)3 not-for-profit Society for Culinary Arts & Letters? This holiday season, consider a tax-deductible Quick Ten Bucks to support the eG Forums and help us remain completely advertising-free. Thanks to all those who have donated so far!

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
fooey

Black Beans, Salted and fermented

13 posts in this topic

I bought a package of salted black beans when I was at the Asian market yesterday.

When I have them, I can never figure out what to put them in. When I don't, I see ten recipes cross my screen that I want to make. Odd that.

Ingredients on the package say "salt, black beans", so I'm guessing not fermented black beans, just salted?

I need to dispatch a couple of pork loins soon, so ideas with pork would be great.


Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would guess that they were in fact fermented---the salt keeps the bad bacteria out and lets the good ones (some form of Lactobacillus, I think) stay.

Rinsed and used in the base of a stir-fried dish is always good. A tablespoon for a pound or so of main ingredient (chicken, tofu). I've used them in marinades for grilled meats, as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One way you could think of them is as "chinese capers". Use where ever you want that little hit of salt & piquancy.


PS: I am a guy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first thing I do is transfer them to a glass jar with a tight lid. They will last pretty much forever if they are decent to begin with. I pitched a jar that was 12 or more years old when I moved only because of space considerations- they still smelled and felt good. Decent to me means that they are pliable versus hard as pellets, and have a pungent yet pleasing odor. Some suggest rinsing or soaking them to remove excess saltiness. I taste one (over the sink for ejection purposes) to give me an idea about the salt level. A simple pork stir fry with garlic, ginger, and soy plus some chopped up beans sounds like a plan to me. Just watch the salt. I like some bitter greens either in the stir fry or alongside. You mentioned pork loin which I usually find a bit lean for stir fry. You could do the greens with the classic soy, garlic ginger, black bean and then serve the pork prepped with a quick sear & oven finish on top letting the juices mingle. I like the addition of shreds of green onion to finish it either way. You could even make a scallion, ginger, black bean oil to drizzle over the top of the roasted loin and simply steamed greens.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always considered salted black beans to be the same as fermented black beans. My family chopped up a package of salted black beans, put 'em in a jar, covered them with peanut oil, and kept the jar in the fridge until all the beans were used up. Whenever a dish called for fermented black beans, we spooned out what we needed and dumped it in the wok. Very easy. My parents chopped up those beans with two big ol' cleavers. I use a Cuisinart. I discovered there can be one or two little pebbles mixed in with those beans, and if you put a stone in your Cuisinart it can catch on the blade and leave a big scratch all around the container. So check the beans for little rocks first.

When you're done with those pork loins--I've always liked Joyce Jue's recipe for Steamed Salmon with Black Bean Sauce:

http://www.massrecipes.com/recipes/99/11/salmonsteakswblackbeansau133419.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've done something similar to that steamed salmon recipe, only instead of salmon steaks, I put a black bean/shredded ginger/shredded scallion mixture over and around a whole tilapia (scaled/cleaned/gutted, head and tail still on). Cut three deep crosswise gashes in each side of the fish; shove a bunch of the mixture in the gashes, a bunch of the rest in the cavity, and scatter the rest on top. Steam until your fishy is done, and enjoy. In fact, I think the ginger/black beans/scallions combo would work pretty well on any fish, whole, steaked, or filleted.

(I've not ever bothered soaking/rinsing the black beans--I like 'em pungent. And I'd use Shaoxing wine instead of dry vermouth, but the vermouth is probably a substitution for those who don't have a well-stocked Asian grocery available to them.)

I also like to put salted black beans in Ma Po Tofu. Plays really well with the layers of Szechuan peppercorn/dried red chile tingle/burn.

Storage: I tend to just shove the opened package in a ziploc bag, press out the excess air, seal it up, and put it in a cool dark cupboard. They seem to be immortal and indestructible. :laugh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another preparation I enjoy is a stir fry of bitter melon with pork or beef and black beans. I like the way the bitter of the melon plays with the pungency of the black bean sauce.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still haven't defrosted the loins, but want to thank everyone above for the ideas.

I'm glad I posted, as I would have never thought of them as "Asian capers". I would have used the whole bag. :laugh:


Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, salted black beans work unreasonably well with shellfish. Clams, Oysters, Cockles & the like. It's very common to see this preparation in Chinese restaurants.


PS: I am a guy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They make a nice difference when a few are smashed up and mixed into fried rice during cooking.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finally got around to cooking out of Ross Dobson's Chinatown a few weeks ago, and one of the first dishes I made was this Eggplant, Cumin and Black Bean salad. It was great, although it could hold back a bit more on the black beans. I'd bought black beans for recipes from the Fuschia Dunlop cookbooks, and was happy to find some other uses for them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hopefully this is an interesting note; I was at a supermarket here in Beijing the other day and noticed that they had two kinds of beans, one especially for fish. I'm guessing that the fish ones are less salty?


Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China, where I live, is sugar central for the country. Over two-thirds of China's output of sugar is grown right here, making it one of the largest sugar production areas on the planet. I have a second home in the countryside and it is surrounded by sugar cane fields.

      Much of this is produced by small time farmers, although huge Chinese and international companies have also moved in.
       
      Also, sugar is used extensively in Chinese cooking, not only as a sweetener, but more as a spice. A little added to a savoury dish can bring out otherwise hidden flavours. It also has medicinal attributes according to traditional Chinese medicine.
       
      Supermarkets have what was to me, on first sight, a huge range of sugars, some almost unrecognisable. Here is a brief introduction to some of them. Most sugar is sold loose, although corner shops and mom 'n pop stores may have pre-packed bags. These are often labelled in English as "candy", the Chinese language not differentiating between "sugar" and "candy" - always a source of confusion. Both are 糖 (táng),

      IMPORTANT NOTE: The Chinese names given here and in the images are the names most used locally. They are all Mandarin Chinese, but it is still possible that other names may be used elsewhere in China. Certainly, non-Mandarin speaking areas will be different.

      By the far the simplest way to get your sugar ration is to buy the unprocessed sugar cane. This is not usually available in supermarkets but is a street vendor speciality. In the countryside, you can buy it at the roadside. There are also people in markets etc with portable juice extractors who will sell you a cup of pure sugar cane juice.


       
      I remember being baffled then amused when, soon after I first arrived in China, someone asked me if I wanted some 甘蔗 (gān zhè). It sounded exactly like 'ganja' or cannabis. No such luck! 甘蔗 (gān zhè) is 'sugar cane'.
       
      The most common sugar in the supermarkets seems to be 冰糖 (bīng táng) which literally means 'ice 'sugar' and is what we tend to call 'rock sugar' or 'crystal sugar'. This highly refined sugar comes in various lump sizes although the price remains the same no matter if the pieces are large or small. Around ¥7/500g. That pictured below features the smaller end of the range.


       
      Related to this is what is known as 冰片糖 (bīng piàn táng) which literally means "ice slice sugar". This is usually slightly less processed (although I have seen a white version, but not recently) and is usually a pale brown to yellow colour. This may be from unprocessed cane sugar extract, but is often white sugar coloured and flavoured with added molasses. It is also sometimes called 黄片糖  (huáng piàn táng) or "yellow slice sugar". ¥6.20/500g.
       


      A less refined, much darker version is known as 红片糖 (hóng piàn táng), literally 'red slice sugar'. (Chinese seems to classify colours differently - what we know as 'black tea' is 'red tea' here. ¥7.20/500g.


       
      Of course, what we probably think of as regular sugar, granulated sugar is also available. Known as 白砂糖 (bái shā táng), literally "white sand sugar', it is the cheapest at  ¥3.88/500g.



      A brown powdered sugar is also common, but again, in Chinese, it isn't brown. It's red and simply known as 红糖 (hóng táng). ¥7.70/500g


       
      Enough sweetness and light for now. More to come tomorrow.
    • By Dejah
      [Host's note: This topic forms part of an extended discussion which grew too large for our servers to handle efficiently.  The conversation continues from here.]
       
       
      Supper: Yeem Gok Gai:

      Mock Fried Rice - grated cauliflower

      Baby Shanghai Bok Choy and ginger

    • By liuzhou
      eG member @Carolyn Phillips has just published her ten-year-long-gestated Chinese cook book, All Under Heaven. 500 pages on China's 35 cuisines. Gathering rave reviews. I've ordered my copy. Can't wait.

      Simultaneously, her "Dim Sum Field Guide is published.
       
      She hasn't posted much here recently, but who would or could while writing two books at the same time - one of them a huge tome?

      Congratulations Carolyn.

       
    • By liuzhou
      A few weeks ago I bought a copy of this cookbook which is a best-selling spin off from the highly successful television series by China Central Television - A Bite of China as discussed on this thread.   .
       

       
      The book was published in August 2013 and is by Chen Zhitian (陈志田 - chén zhì tián). It is only available in Chinese (so far). 
       
      There are a number of books related to the television series but this is the only one which seems to be legitimate. It certainly has the high production standards of the television show. Beautifully photographed and with (relatively) clear details in the recipes.
       
      Here is a sample page.
       

       
      Unlike in most western cookbooks, recipes are not listed by main ingredient. They are set out in six vaguely defined chapters. So, if you are looking for a duck dish, for example, you'll have to go through the whole contents list. I've never seen an index in any Chinese book on any subject. 
       
      In order to demonstrate the breadth of recipes in the book and perhaps to be of interest to forum members who want to know what is in a popular Chinese recipe book, I have sort of translated the contents list - 187 recipes.
       
      This is always problematic. Very often Chinese dishes are very cryptically named. This list contains some literal translations. For some dishes I have totally ignored the given name and given a brief description instead. Any Chinese in the list refers to place names. Some dishes I have left with literal translations of their cryptic names, just for amusement value.
       
      I am not happy with some of the "translations" and will work on improving them. I am also certain there are errors in there, too.
       
      Back in 2008, the Chinese government issued a list of official dish translations for the Beijing Olympics. It is full of weird translations and total errors, too. Interestingly, few of the dishes in the book are on that list.
       
      Anyway, for what it is worth, the book's content list is here (Word document) or here (PDF file). If anyone is interested in more information on a dish, please ask. For copyright reasons, I can't reproduce the dishes here exactly, but can certainly describe them.
       
      Another problem is that many Chinese recipes are vague in the extreme. I'm not one to slavishly follow instructions, but saying "enough meat" in a recipe is not very helpful. This book gives details (by weight) for the main ingredients, but goes vague on most  condiments.
       
      For example, the first dish (Dezhou Braised Chicken), calls for precisely 1500g of chicken, 50g dried mushroom, 20g sliced ginger and 10g of scallion. It then lists cassia bark, caoguo, unspecified herbs, Chinese cardamom, fennel seed, star anise, salt, sodium bicarbonate and cooking wine without suggesting any quantities. It then goes back to ask for 35g of maltose syrup, a soupçon of cloves, and "the correct quantity" of soy sauce.
       
      Cooking instructions can be equally vague. "Cook until cooked".
       
      A Bite of China - 舌尖上的中国- ISBN 978-7-5113-3940-9 
    • By liuzhou
      Introduction
       
      I spent the weekend in western Hunan reuniting with 36 people I worked with for two years starting 20 years ago. All but one, 龙丽花 lóng lì huā, I hadn’t seen for 17 years.  I last saw her ten years ago. One other, 舒晶 shū jīng, with whom I have kept constant contact but not actually seen, helped me organise the visit in secret. No one else knew I was coming. In fact, I had told Long Lihua that I couldn’t come. Most didn’t even know I am still in China.
       
      I arrived at my local station around 00:20 in order to catch the 1:00 train northwards travelling overnight to Hunan, with an advertised arrival time of 9:15 am. Shu Jing was to meet me.
       
      When I arrived at the station, armed with my sleeper ticket, I found that the train was running 5 hours late! Station staff advised that I change my ticket for a different train, which I did. The problem was that there were no sleeper tickets available on the new train. All I could get was a seat. I had no choice, really. They refunded the difference and gave me my new ticket.
       
       

       

       
      The second train was only 1½ hours late, then I had a miserable night, unable to sleep and very uncomfortable. Somehow the train managed to make up for the late start and we arrived on time. I was met as planned and we hopped into a taxi to the hotel where I was to stay and where the reunion was to take place.
       
      They had set up a reception desk in the hotel lobby and around half of the people I had come to see were there. When I walked in there was this moment of confusion, stunned silence, then the friend I had lied to about not coming ran towards me and threw herself into my arms with tears running down her face and across her smile. It was the best welcome I’ve ever had. Then the others also welcomed me less physically, but no less warmly. They were around 20 years old when I met them; now they are verging on, or already are, 40, though few of them look it. Long Lihua is the one on the far right.
       

       
      Throughout the morning people arrived in trickles as their trains or buses got in from all over China. One woman had come all the way from the USA. We sat around chatting, reminiscing and eating water melon until finally it was time for lunch.
       

       
      Lunch we had in the hotel dining room. By that time, the group had swelled to enough to require three banqueting tables.
       
      Western Hunan, known as 湘西 xiāng xī, where I was and where I lived for two years - twenty years ago, is a wild mountainous area full of rivers. It was one of the last areas “liberated” by Mao’s communists and was largely lawless until relatively recently. It has spectacular scenery.
       
      Hunan is known for its spicy food, but Xiangxi is the hottest. I always know when I am back in Hunan. I just look out the train window and see every flat surface covered in chilis drying in the sun. Station platforms, school playgrounds, the main road from the village to the nearest town are all strewn with chillis.
       

       

       
      The people there consider Sichuan to be full of chilli wimps. I love it. When I left Hunan I missed the food so much. So I was looking forward to this. It did not disappoint.
       
      So Saturday lunch in next post.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.