A while ago, I tried a dish called ‘Scallop Xao Tuong’ at the Café Indochine Vietnamese Restaurant in Ottawa. It was described on the menu as being Scallops with Eggplant and Zucchini in a Fermented Black Bean Sauce and, while it was really delicious, I was a little disappointed in that there was almost no hint of black beans to give it the really rich umami flavor I was expecting. I also noted, in my review of the restaurant that, in addition to the eggplant and zucchini, there were all sorts of other vegetables included and that I felt the end-result was too ‘busy’.
I decided that I would try and improve upon the basic theme at home and my idea was to up the amount of salted black bean, replace the tiny bay scallops used by the restaurant with slices of large sea scallop, and keep the vegetable component to a much simpler minimum… Continue reading “Scallops with Salted Black Bean”
As I wrote in my ‘Foodstuffs’ post featuring Salted Black Beans, I generally prefer to use the raw beans when making a sauce as most of the commercial Black Bean Sauces are not very good, in my opinion. Fermented black beans have a rather distinct ‘chocolaty’ under taste that is usually quite mild but this usually seems to be much more pronounced in commercial preparations. Commercial sauces also tend to have a rather nasty black color to them that can make a finished dish unattractive. Lee Kum Kee’s own version of regular Black Bean sauce is no better than any of the others in these regards but this particular version with Chili is excellent. The addition of chili limits its use to spicier dishes, of course, but it is still a very useful and versatile sauce… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Lee Kum Kee Brand Chili Black Bean Sauce”
This is my second culinary experiment using some of the Bitter Melon slices I prepped for the Foodstuffs post some days ago. Again, I decided on a Chinese style dish since these are the Chinese variety of the melon but, this time, the Melon is cooked rather than left raw as it was in my Bitter Melon Salad experiment. I also kicked the spice level up a notch with a Chili Black Bean sauce in order to see how the bitterness of the melon stands up to the heat … Continue reading “Bitter Melon and Beef in Chili Black-Bean sauce”
Salted Black Beans are a fermented soy product and are often referred to as Fermented Black Beans or Chinese Fermented Black Beans in English. In China where they are used perhaps more extensively than anywhere else, they are known as 豆豉, or dòuchǐ in Pinyin. The 豆 is simply the basic character for bean, while the 豉, or chǐ, specifies beans that have been salted and fermented. Similar products also appear in other Asian cuisines, notable Japanese and Korean, but there are also varieties in the Philippines and in Vietnam. In some places, the bean are inoculated with yeast to achieve fermentation but the traditional Chinese method just involves salting and the process is much slower and result is unique. One Japanese version called natto is definitely an acquired taste and has a very cheesy appearance and taste that many find offensive. Continue reading “Foodstuff: Salted Black Beans”