Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Thursday, January 30, 2003  

To more serious matters: as part of my continuing culinary quest, on Monday I purchased, in a Chinese grocery and for just five dollars, a packet of black beans. Wonderfully pungent, they formed the basis of two dishes I made this week.

The first was shrimps with black beans and black mushrooms in oyster sauce; the second, grilled chicken breasts with a black bean-citrus marinade. The chicken dish was a relatively simple affair. The black beans were soaked in hot water for a minute, then finely chopped with garlic, ginger and cilantro, to which orange juice was added. The chicken was then marinated in this mixture in the fridge for almost two days, then grilled; it was extremely flavourful and had a wonderful, rich crust.

The shrimp dish was more of a challenge, and the results were quite pleasing. The dried mushrooms soaked in water for about twenty minutes; the tough stalks were discarded and the caps chopped. They marinated with the shrimp, some dry white wine and cornstarch. The black beans were soaked in hot water, then chopped with garlic, ginger and scallions. Then the sauce was made with the water from the mushrooms, some bottled oyster sauce, a teaspoon of sugar, and cornstarch to thicken.

The shrimp-mushroom mix was fried for a couple of minutes then set aside. The black bean paste then fried in hot oil for a minute, the shrimp and mushrooms were added back, then the sauce added at the end, and everything was served over jasmine rice with a sprinkling of fresh-chopped scallions.

Cheap, distinctively flavourful, versatile - praise to the humble black bean!

posted by Jonathan | 10:44 PM 0 comments


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