It’s always a huge complement when people enjoy your food but for me the biggest complement of all is that my sister is not only enjoying my food, she’s coming to mine every week for Meatless Monday. You see it’s not that she can’t live without meat in her diet, not at all, in fact she’s quite happy to cut it out a little. The thing that makes our weekly dinner dates such a thrill for me is that my sister is such a particular eater and by particular I mean she’s never been one for trying new things. It’s still baby steps so I’m trying to recreate a lot of the foods that I know she loves to eat before I try more “daring” dishes.
My sister is a massive fan of Chinese food and Black Bean sauce dishes were always a favourite of mine. On my biannual fashion trips to Xiamen in China, I took immense pleasure from eating plain rice with black bean sauce, so garlicy and gingery. Then, last year on a trip to Vietnam I was lucky enough to find a street food place serving rice noodles with black bean sauce. It was so delicious and so simple. What a find! So, this recipe is inspired by the cities of Xiamen in China and Hanoi in Vietnam and it’s inspired by my sister who now gets excited about vegan food.
What you’ll need: For the sauce (serves 4-6)
- 100g of fermented black beans (you can get these from the Asian market)
- A whole bulb of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped
- 100ml of vegetable oil
- 50ml of Shaoxing rice wine
- A knob of ginger approx 4cms, peeled and sliced
- 2 x green chillies, deseeded
- 1tablespoon of caster sugar
- 1 bunch of spring onions
- Wash the beans thoroughly and remove any of the dried ginger. The beans are very salty so they’ll need a good rinse.
- Heat a wok over a high head and add about one quarter of the oil to the pan. Add the beans, garlic and ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove 2 tablespoons of the mix and set aside.
- Add the Spring onions to the wok and continue to cook until the mixture has softened.
- Add the Shaoxing rice wine and the sugar and mix well. Reduce the heat and allow to cook on a low heat until the liquid has reduced by three quarters.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool.
- Transfer the cooled ingredients to a blender and mix on a high speed whilst adding the remaining oil.
- Remove from the blender and stir in the 2 tablespoons of whole black beans. Use straight away or freeze.
What you’ll need: for the noodle dish (serves 2)
- 1/2 portion of the Black Bean Sauce recipe from above
- 2 measures of rice noodles ( I use a pasta measure)
- 1/4 bunch of spring onions, white and green parts cut diagonally into 4cms strips1 small white onion, cut into large chunks
- 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
- 100g of chestnut mushrooms
- 1 large carrot peeled and cut into 4 x 1 cms chips
- Some red and green chillies for extra kick and garnish
- A splash of soy sauce or tamari to your taste
- Boil the rice noodles in some water.
- Remove from the pan and rinse under cold water, set aside.
- Heat some toasted sesame oil in a wok.
- Add the mushrooms and white onion and sauté until the mushrooms are almost cooked.
- Add the remaining ingredients and continue to cook while tossing the veg regularly.
- Add a splash of soy sauce or tamari to your taste
- When the veg is cooked add the noodles to heat. When they become less sticky add the black bean sauce. Add a splash of soy or tamari to help loosen the noodles.
- Use a pair of cooking tongs to gently mix the noodles with the sauce.
- Remove from the wok and serve up.
Share and enjoy!