Chinese ODM – Fish with Fermented Black Bean Sauce.

001 Tau Si Fish edited re-sized

Fermented black beans ( 黑豆豆豉, is also known as salted or dried black beans). They are soybeans that have been dried and fermented with salt. These beans are a staple ingredient in Cantonese cuisine. Because of their strong flavor, fermented black beans are frequently paired with other strong seasonings, such as garlic and chilies. They provide a distinct pungent but aromatic taste to both seafood and meat dishes.

Fried Fish with Fermented Black Ben Sauce is cooked at home, and is frequently one the many dishes at an “Economy Rice” stall at the hawker centres or food courts in Singapore. Fermented Black Bean Sauce with chicken, pork or fish also commonly features on the menus of Chinese Takeaways in the USA. Another One-Dish meal for your menu.

Jenny, whom I had met and became close friends with in Kuala Lumpur, still recalls a dish of crabs cooked with this sauce. I had cooked that dish for her and family more than a decade ago. Jenny, I am posting this dish for you even though it is fish and not crab. Sweet friend, I promise to get to that Crab with Fermented Black Bean Sauce as soon as possible!

Above is a photo which I copied from the internet of  a brand of Fermented black beans with Ginger that I have been using for many years. Thanks! At our wet markets, you can purchase this brand or you can also buy small packets (about 1 Tbsp of beans). Bear in mind that the wet market sells 2 types of Fermented Black Beans – with or without ginger. They are called by different names.

Ingredients.

Photo above shows cubes of Threadfin fish. The other ingredients are common ones in a South East Asian pantry. The 3 types of vegetables are in the stainless steel plate whilst the 3 aromatics are in those seashell dishes in the front.

STEP 1. Marinade the fish cubes for about 20 mins. If you prefer the fish to remain as steaks, marinade them too. Then, proceed to prepare your other ingredients whilst waiting for the fish to marinade. If you intend to leave your fish as steaks, may I suggest that you cut your vegetables into smaller portions?

STEP 2. Heat wok over medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp of cooking oil and heat till oil is hot. Dry the fish cubes or steaks. When just cooked, remove onto a plate and set aside. Photo below shows the fried fish cubes sitting  on a sheet of paper kitchen towel to absorb the oil. You can skip this step if you prefer.

 

STEP 3. Add 2 Tbsp of cooking oil into the the hot wok. Stir fry, over medium high heat, all 3 aromatics – ginger, garlic and fermented black beans for about 2 mins.

STEP 4. Add all 3 vegetables. Continue to stir fry till vegetables are just cooked.

STEP 5. Add the Sauce. continue cooking till sauce is translucent showing that the cornstarch is cooked. See photo below.

 

STEP 6. Add the cooked cubes of fish. Gently toss to mix all ingredients for about 1 min. If you are using fish steaks instead, just pour the vegetables and sauce over your steaks. Plate your cooked dish and serve with rice and a soup.

RECIPE

SERVES 6 persons

Ingredients:

300 gm large cubes of white firm fish fillet ( in Singapore, Threadfin fish is frequently used) OR you can use fish steaks.

Marinate (for fish cubes or steaks)

  • 1/2 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine or medium dry sherry
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

Other Ingredients – vegetables

  • 2 sticks celery, sliced across but angled to get larger slice
  • 1/2 red and 1/2 green pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and wedged

Other Ingredients – Aromatics

  • 15 to 20 gm fresh ginger root, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 Tbsp chopped peeled garlic
  • 2 Tbsp roughly chopped fermented black beans (Tau Si)

Sauce.

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • few dashes of ground white pepper

Method:

1. Marinade the fish cubes for about 20 mins. If you prefer the fish to remain as steaks, marinade them too. Then, proceed to prepare your other ingredients whilst waiting for the fish to marinade.

2. Heat wok over medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp of cooking oil and heat till oil is hot. Dry the fish cubes or steaks. When just cooked, remove onto a plate and set aside. Photo below shows the fried fish cubes sitting  on a sheet of paper kitchen towel to absorb the oil. You can skip this step if you prefer.

3. Add 2 Tbsp of cooking oil into the the hot wok. Stir fry, over medium high heat, all 3 aromatics – ginger, garlic and fermented black beans for about 2 mins.

4. Add all 3 vegetables. Continue to stir fry till vegetables are just cooked.

5. Add the Sauce. continue cooking till sauce is translucent showing that the cornstarch is cooked. See photo below.

6. Add the cooked cubes of fish. Gently tossed to mix all ingredients for about 1 min. If you are using fish steaks instead, just pour the vegetables and sauce over your steaks. Plate your cooked dish and serve.

Serving Suggestions

Quick Meal. Serve with rice.

A casual dinner party?

Serving Suggestions

Quick Meal. A bowl of Chinese Soup with rice and a vegetable dish (examples are items 5, 6 or 7 below) .

Guests are coming! Some other dishes are listed below. Remind your helper to use those ingredients that are already in the fridge, freezer or larder first.

1. Chinese Soup – Radishes with Dried Squid. Click here.

2. Beef Rendang (spicy). Click here

3. Singapore Chicken Curry (spicy). Click here

4. Paper Wrapped Chicken (Baked). Click here

5. Dry Assam Seafood. Click here

6. Pork, Spinach and Egg Stir Fry. Click here

7. Spinach in Broth with 3 Types of Eggs .Click here

8. Broccoli and Meat or Tofu Stir Fry. Click here

9. Shanghai cabbage with Oyster Sauce and Garlic. Click here

You may like to end this meal with a plate of cold, freshly cut seasonal fruits. Perhaps you had time to make a dessert like one of the 2 listed below? Either of them is most suited to our hot tropical climate.

1. Almond Jelly + Longans Click here.

2. Coconut Jelly with Can Lychees. Click here.

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