Tofu and mushrooms in a black bean sauce

In the UK, what we understand as ‘black bean sauce’ we would typically find in Chinese food isn’t the same as the type of black beans we would use in Mexican food as an example. The Chinese style black bean is actually called Douchi and is fermented and salted soybean. You can buy Douchi from Chinese supermarkets and they are usually pretty cheap. They also last for ages (a few years) and is therefore much cheaper than buying readymade black bean sauce each time. The best ones I’ve found are called Yang Jiang Preserved Black Beans With Ginger. Since they are not in brine, they look like they have been dried, but once they are heated with some liquid, they soon look like normal beans. If you can’t get your hands on Yang Jiang Preserved Black Beans, try to buy fermented beans that are not in brine. Just ask a member of staff for help if you are not sure. I am yet to find a Chinese supermarket in the UK that doesn’t stock any.

The fermented black beans are pretty punchy so try not to go overboard. You won’t need to add any extra salt!

Ingredients (serves 2)

50g fermented black beans
150g mushrooms
1 pack of regular tofu (not silken)
2 cloves of garlic
1 thumb of ginger
1 chilli
Sesame seed oil (or regular oil)
Soy sauce
Rice (to serve)


Put the tofu between two plates and place a small weight onto to slowly drain the water from the tofu. Make sure the weight isn’t too heavy so you squash it. The longer you drain the tofu the better (at least 30 minutes will do but some restaurants will leave the tofu to drain at least 24 hours in advance).

Once you have drained the tofu, get the rice on the boil and then fry the tofu block whole in the sesame seed oil. In a separate pan, fry the garlic, ginger, chilli and mushrooms together in some more oil. Once the mushrooms are properly cooked slice the tofu block into edible chunks and add it to the mushroom mixture along with a splash of soy and the fermented black beans. Add a bit of water if it looks a bit dry.

Serve it on a bed of rice and enjoy!

Tofu and black bean sauce

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