Stir-fried String Beans With Tofu in Black Bean Sauce
Stir-fried String Beans With Tofu in Black Bean Sauce – Chinese Black Bean Sauce, whether homemade or store-bought, adds incredible umami flavor to a stir-fry of string beans and tofu. This recipe comes from Chinese Homestyle by Maggie Zhu, and is a simple, plant-forward meal!
Stir-fried String Beans With Tofu in Black Bean Sauce – Chinese Black Bean Sauce, whether homemade or store-bought, adds incredible umami flavor to a stir-fry of string beans and tofu. A simple, plant-forward meal, this recipe comes from Chinese Homestyle by Maggie Zhu.
I don’t know about you, but I finally feel as though the year has gotten started. With that comes a packed calendar, which in turn means a less time to devote to cooking. This is the time of year when I love cooking more plant-forward meals; that’s the good thing about vegetables – they take far less time to cook!
Someone who shares my love for umami and vegetables is my friend, Maggie Zhu, from Omnivore’s Cookbook. I was happy to welcome Maggie to the podcast to discuss her newly released cookbook. Chinese Homestyle (affiliate link) shares a plant-forward approach takeout, dim sum, noodles & more!
Since I always have a bottle of black bean sauce in my refrigerator, I knew I had to try her recipe for Stir-Fried String Beans with Tofu in Black Bean Sauce. It’s the perfect meal to serve on meatless Mondays, or any time I’m craving a healthy meal packed with so much flavor!
How to Make Stir-Fried String Beans with Tofu in Black Bean Sauce
Black bean sauce brings so much umami flavor and yumminess to any dish it is used in! It pairs perfectly in this dish with string beans and tofu, though you can use other types of plant-based protein, such as tempeh or seitan, and in other recipes like vegetable fried rice and Old Beijing fried sauce noodles.
How to Make Tofu in Black Bean Sauce with String Beans
- Prepare the tofu
Like many recipes that use tofu, you want to start by draining and patting the tofu dry with paper towels. This gets rid of any extra moisture so it can fry up better and absorb all the great flavors of the black bean sauce.
Once the tofu is dry, dice it into about 1/2-inch cubes. Then, marinate it with the wine, salt, and cornstarch. If you’re short on time, don’t worry! The tofu just needs to sit for about 15 minutes, giving you time to prepare the other ingredients.
- Make the sauce
This sauce is delicious and so simple. In a medium bowl, whisk together water with soy sauce, wine, black bean sauce, sugar, and cornstarch until everything is dissolved and combined.
You can use store-bought black bean sauce to make everything quick and easy, or as Maggie recommends, create a homemade version, as it tends to be much more fragrant. Plus, you can make a big batch and store the homemade sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six months!
Make homemade black bean sauce by straining and coarsely chopping fermented black beans. Cook chili peppers with oil in a medium saucepan on medium-low heat until they’re dark but not black. Discard the chilis and add the black beans and minced onion to the chili oil. Stir and cook for several minutes. Then, add the Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and sugar. Simmer on low and stir constantly until the onion turns tender. Finally, add the garlic and ginger and continue to simmer and stir the sauce until it all melts together and oil floats on top. Transfer the sauce to a large bowl and let it cool.
- Cook the tofu.
Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, strain the tofu and add it to the skillet. Be sure the tofu fits in one layer on the pan and the pieces don’t overlap. Leave the tofu to cook undisturbed for two to three minutes until the bottoms are a beautiful, crispy golden brown. Flip and cook each side until all sides are golden. You can transfer the tofu to a large plate to rest while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Cook the green beans
While the pan is still hot, add some more oil, add the green beans, and reduce the skillet to medium heat.
I like to stir and flip the beans occasionally so that all sides get brown and tender. This can take about 10 minutes or so. If the pan starts to smoke, reduce the heat again to medium-low.
- Make the stir fry
Once the beans are cooked, it’s time to put together the stir-fry! Increase the heat to medium-high and add garlic, ginger, scallions, and oil. Cook for about a minute to release the fragrance. Then, add the tofu and the black bean sauce. I recommend giving the sauce one last stir before adding it to the pan to ensure the cornstarch is dissolved.
Listen to the Podcast with Maggie Zhu
For more delicious plant-based Chinese recipes, check out my interview with Maggie Zhu in Episode 63 of the Kitchen Confidante Podcast!
More Stir-Fry Recipes
Sweet and Spicy Crispy Tofu with Zucchini Noodles
Shaking Beef Vietnamese Stir Fry
Egg Roll Bowl (Filipino Lumpia Bowl: Lumpiang Hubad)
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of Chinese Homestyle to review for the Kitchen Confidante Podcast Episode 63 with Maggie Zhu. All opinions are, of course, my own. The post may have affiliate links; see my Disclosure page to learn more.
Stir-fried String Beans with Tofu in Black Bean Sauce
- 1 block (16 ounces or 454 g) firm tofu cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 2 tablespoons *Black Bean Sauce see below
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil) divided, plus 1 teaspoon for drizzling
- 1 pound (454 g) green beans cut into 1-inch-long (2.5 cm) pieces
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 2 scallions sliced
- Prepared rice for serving (optional)
*BLACK BEAN SAUCE (See Notes)
- 1 cup (240 g) fermented black beans
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) grapeseed oil (or any neutral oil)
- 4 to 6 dried Chinese chili peppers torn into small pieces
- 1/4 white onion minced
- 1/4 cup 60 ml Shaoxing wine
- 1/4 cup 60 ml light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup 50 g sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1 head garlic (8 to 10 large cloves) finely minced
- 1 thumb ginger finely minced
*CHILI OIL (See Notes)
- 4 tablespoons Sichuan chili flakes
- 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 whole star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable oil (or grapeseed oil)
- Pat the tofu dry with paper towels. In a large bowl, combine the tofu, 1 tablespoon wine, salt, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch and stir to mix well. Let stand for 15 minutes to marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.
- In a medium bowl, combine 1⁄3 cup (80 ml) of water with the soy sauce, 2 tablespoons wine, black bean sauce, sugar, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Stir to mix well.
Make Stir Fry
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Strain the tofu and add it to the skillet without overlapping. Let cook undisturbed until the bottoms turn golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip over and cook the other sides until golden. Transfer to a large plate.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the green beans to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the green beans, stirring and flipping occasionally, until they are browned and tender, 10 minutes or so. Reduce the heat to medium-low if the pan starts to smoke.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and add the garlic, ginger, and scallions. Drizzle with the 1 teaspoon oil and cook and stir for 1 minute to release the fragrance.
- Add the tofu back into the skillet. Stir the sauce again to make sure the cornstarch is dissolved, then pour it into the pan. Stir a few times until the sauce thickens and coats the ingredients.
- Immediately transfer the contents of the pan to a large plate and serve hot over rice (if using).
*Homemade Black Bean Sauce*
- Rinse the fermented black beans with water, then strain and coarsely chop them. I like to leave some bigger pieces of beans to give the sauce more texture.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and chili peppers over medium heat until warm. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the chili peppers turn dark but not black, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes. Scoop out the chili peppers and discard them.
- Add the black beans and onion. Cook and stir until the sauce looks a bit dry (the beans will absorb oil at first but release it once they are cooked), 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and sugar. Let simmer, stirring constantly, until the onion turns tender, about 10 minutes. (The sauce can easily burn, so keep the heat low and stir the sauce constantly to ensure even cooking.)
- Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook and stir the sauce until the onion turns extremely tender and is melting into the sauce texture, 5 minutes or so. You should see oil floating on top. Transfer the sauce to a large bowl to cool completely.
- Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
*Homemade Chili Oil*
- Add the chili flakes, five-spice powder, sesame seeds, Sichuan pepper, star anise, and bay leaves to a heatproof ceramic bowl that can hold at least 2 cups (480 ml) of liquid. Place the bowl on a heat-resistant coaster or trivet.
- In a small skillet or saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 370°F (190°C) and no higher than 400°F (205°C). Remove from the heat immediately.
- Carefully pour the oil or use a ladle to transfer it into the bowl of mixed spices. The oil will bubble for a few seconds and cook the spices. While the oil is bubbling, use a metal spoon to gently stir the spices so that they cook thoroughly.
- Once the oil has cooled a bit, scoop out and discard the star anise and bay leaves. The oil is now ready to use; its flavor will mature if you let it rest at room temperature for a day, allowing the spices to infuse into the oil.
- Store the oil in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or in the refrigerator for up to 6 months
- This is an example of how to use the homemade black bean sauce to whip up a main dish fast. I used tofu here, though you can use other types of plant-based protein, such as tempeh or seitan. This recipe includes instructions for making homemade black bean sauce and chili oil but you can just as easily purchase premade options from the store– though I highly recommend homemade. The times include the time taken to prep all indgredients homemade.
- Black Bean Sauce Notes:
- This versatile Chinese sauce adds intense umami to a dish. You can easily buy black bean sauce at a grocery store, but the homemade version is much more fragrant, and I highly recommend it.
- Unless you use very potent chili peppers (such as Thai chili peppers), the sauce won’t be spicy. I only use dried Chinese chili peppers to infuse more aroma into the sauce; dried Korean and Mexican chili peppers work too. If you do want a spicy sauce, consider blending 1/2 cup (120 ml) of Chili Oil into the sauce at the end of cooking or adding 1 teaspoon of cayenne powder with the garlic and ginger in step 5.
- Chili Oil Notes:
- Chili oil is one of the pantry staples I always keep in my kitchen. I consider it a cheater ingredient because a few drops of it can make almost any dish taste immediately better. These days, you can find high-quality chili oil produced in small batches, but this homemade oil is inexpensive to make and you can guarantee maximum freshness. The process may seem intimidating at first, but once you’ve tried it out, you’ll be surprised by how straightforward it is and that it takes less than ten minutes to make.
- To test the oil temperature without a thermometer, add a thin slice of ginger to the oil. When the ginger starts to wither and turn golden brown, immediately turn off the heat. Remove and discard the ginger. This method may not always be accurate depending on your stove, so for a more accurate result, use a thermometer.