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.

This dish is frequently served at home. It is always 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 beef also commonly features on the menus of Chinese Takeaways in the USA.

You can now add another One-Dish meal (ODM) to your repertiore of Chinese dishes for your family.

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.

Some Comments about Ingredients.

002 Tau Si Fish edited re-sized

Top Row. Ground white pepper, cornflour, cooking oil, shao xing wine ( medium dry sherry is a good substitute), sugar and salt.

Left middle row. A stainless steel bowl of cubes of Threadfin fish. Any firm white fish may be used.

Right middle row. 3 types of vegetables are in the stainless steel plate. Celery, onion, red and green capsicum.

Front Row. 3 aromatics are in those seashell dishes in the front. Garlic, fresh ginger root and fermented black beans.

Preparation of Ingredients

002A Tau Si Fish edited re-sized

STEP 1. Wash and cut all the ingredients as shown. Prepare sauce in a separate bowl.

STEP  2. Marinade the fish cubes with salt, wine and corn starch. Set aside for about 20 mins. If you have to rush off at this stage, cover and place fish cubes in chiller section of fridge for a day or 2.

Cooking the Dish

003A Tau Si Fish edited re-sized

STEP 1.  Heat wok over medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp of cooking oil and continue to heat till oil is hot (but not smoking). Fry the seasoned fish cubes, just long enough to seal, remove onto a plate and set aside. Photo below shows the fried fish cubes sitting  on a sheet of paper kitchen towel to absorb some of the oil (optional). Set aside.

005 Tau Si Fish edited re-sized

STEP 2. You may need to add another 1 to 2 Tbsp of cooking oil into the the hot wok. Over medium high heat, stir fry all 3 aromatics – ginger, garlic and fermented black beans till fragrant. Just a minute or 2.

007A Tau Si Fish edited resized

STEP 3. Add all 3 types of vegetables into the fragrant aromatics. Continue to stir fry till vegetables are just cooked. Avoid over cooking vegetables as they will continue to cook at the sauce stage.

008 Tau Si Fish edited re-sized

STEP 4. Add the Sauce and continue cooking till sauce is translucent showing that the cornstarch is cooked and vegetables are fork tender. See photo below.

009 Tau Si Fish edited re-sized

010 Tau Si Fish edited re-sized

STEP 5.  Add the cooked cubes of fish into the wok full of vegetables and sauce. Gently toss to mix all ingredients well in the wok with heat on for about 1 min. Plate your cooked dish and serve.

RECIPE

SERVES: 6 persons

Ingredients:

300 gm large cubes of white firm fish fillet (in Singapore, Threadfin fish is frequently used).

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:

Preparation

1. Wash and cut all the ingredients as shown. Prepare sauce in a separate bowl.

2. Marinade the fish cubes with salt, wine and corn starch. Set aside for about 20 mins. If you have to rush off at this stage, cover and place fish cubes in chiller section of fridge for a day or 2. ( the vegetables and aromatics can also be kept for a day or 2).

Cooking the Dish

1.  Heat wok over medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp of cooking oil and continue to heat till oil is hot (but not smoking). Fry the seasoned fish cubes, just long enough to seal, remove onto a plate and set aside. Photo below shows the fried fish cubes sitting  on a sheet of paper kitchen towel to absorb some of the oil (optional). Set aside.

2.  You may need to add another 1 to 2 Tbsp of cooking oil into the the hot wok. Over medium high heat, stir fry all 3 aromatics – ginger, garlic and fermented black beans till fragrant. Just a minute or 2.

3. Add all 3 types of vegetables into the fragrant aromatics. Continue to stir fry till vegetables are just cooked. Avoid over cooking vegetables as they will continue to cook at the sauce stage.

4. Add the Sauce and continue cooking till sauce is translucent showing that the cornstarch is cooked and vegetables are just fork tender.

5. Add the cooked cubes of fish into the wok full of vegetables and sauce. Gently toss to mix all ingredients well in the wok with heat on for about 1 min. Plate your cooked dish and serve.

Serving Suggestions

Quick Meal. Serve with rice.

A casual dinner party?

Serving Suggestions

Quick Meal. How about including a bowl of nourishing Chinese Soup like one of these listed below?

1. Radishes with Dried Squid Click here

2. Lotus Root, Peanut with Pork Ribs Click here

3. Pork Stomach with Peppercorn. Click here

4. Tang Ho with Fishballs. Click here

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.

Meat Dishes

1. Beef Rendang (spicy). Click here

2. Singapore Chicken Curry (spicy). Click here

3. Paper Wrapped Chicken (Baked). Click here

4. Pari Pari Style Chicken Wings. Click here.

Seafood Dishes

1. Dry Assam Seafood. Click here

Vegetable Dishes

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

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

3. 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.

1. Chinese Soup – Radishes with Dried Squid. 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  these which can be prepared a day or 2 ahead?

1. Almond Jelly + Longans Click here.

2. Coconut Jelly with Can Lychees. Click here.

3. Sago Pudding. Click here.

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