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Mussels Steamed with Black Beans

Steamed Black Bean Mussels 1

Steaming Oysters with a sauce made from Salted Black Beans is a favorite Cantonese preparation, and one I have enjoyed many times. Unfortunately, fresh oysters are just about impossible to come by in this part of the world and so, for this experiment, I  am going to improvise using some lovely New Zealand Mussels I happen to have in my freezer. The variety, somewhat erroneously sold as ‘Kiwi Clams’, is the same type I used (and photographed) for my Bouillabaisse experiment over the Christmas holidays and they should work very nicely with the rich, umami flavor of black beans paired with garlic and chili…

The Ingredients

  • 12 large Mussels
  • 2 Tbsp. Salted Black Beans;
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped;
  • 1 tsp. Sugar;
  • 1 tsp. Red Chili, chopped (or sliced into thin rings);
  • ¼ cup Rice Wine;
  • 1 Scallion, thinly sliced into rings;
  • Few leaves of lettuce, coarsely shredded.

The Method

Steamed Black Bean Mussels 2

Mash the garlic into the sugar with the back of the fork and then add the salted black beans. Continue mashing until the beans are mostly all crushed but still have chunks visible here and there.

Steamed Black Bean Mussels 3

Now add the chili and the rice wine along with the white and light green parts of the scallion. Stir well and set aside to let the flavors meld for 30 minutes or so. Reserve the remainder of the scallion rings for garnish.

Steamed Black Bean Mussels 4

Line appropriate steamer dishes with some of the lettuce leaves and then arrange the mussels on top. The leaves will add stability for the shells and also add a nice touch of color.

Steamed Black Bean Mussels 5

Spoon the black bean mixture evenly over the mussels.

Steamed Black Bean Mussels 6

Steam everything for 5 to 6 minutes and then serve.

The Verdict

I am happy to report that, for a first attempt, this turned out as nicely as many restaurant equivalents I have tried, although I have to admit that the quality of these mussels deserves much of the credit here. My wife really loved it, saying she could eat it all night, and I liked it very much myself. The food critic in me, however, is also compelled to admit that the sauce needs a little tweaking as it had a few rough edges. The chili heat might be a bit much for some people and I thought that the sugar could probably be decreased by half as the mussels are sweet enough on their own. I also think that just a hint of ginger and some sesame oil might also go a long way to balancing the flavors a bit. That being said, though, I was pleased with the result…



15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kiwi clams! Oh dear. Why do they try to change names. 😦 Green-lipped mussels.
    Theses look woderful. 🙂

    February 13, 2013
    • Ah … so *that’s* what they are called!

      February 13, 2013
  2. They looked very attractive too! Congrats for a good outcome! You even got a Chinese steamer!

    February 13, 2013
    • I use bamboo steamers all the time …. my biggest one finally fell apart after years of use and I have to replace it 😦

      February 13, 2013
  3. this dish looks amazing

    February 13, 2013
    • Thank you … the wife was especially partial 🙂

      February 13, 2013
  4. I love black beans and mussels but never had them together or even seen them in restaurants. What a great idea. The robust flavor of mussels would stand up very well to black bean and over here in kiwi-land, mussels are economical year round. Kiwi clams in indeed! That’s a new one 😀

    February 13, 2013
    • Those green-lipped NZ variety are about the best I have ever had!

      February 13, 2013
  5. Delighted to see you using the salted black beans. They bring the flavour to a new level.
    Lovely looking dish.

    February 13, 2013
    • Thank you….. I love the beans with ribs. I’ve seen them used with fish and I haven’t tried it yet but it sounds good.

      February 13, 2013
  6. The photos make this look just about perfect. Great photography! And a healthy and nourishing recipe! It both looks and sounds really delicious!

    February 14, 2013
    • Actually, I really would have liked to have done a nice ‘radial’ arrangement of the mussels on the plate but they were so big and wouldn’t fit properly and a larger platter wouldn’t have fit my steamer… but thank you for the encouragement 🙂

      February 15, 2013
  7. That looks fantastic and better than any restaurant. Bravo, John!

    February 17, 2013
    • Not quite as well plated maybe… but Darlene really enjoyed it 🙂

      February 17, 2013

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