Asparagus with black bean sauce

It's spring! Along with this killer sunshine, that also means asparagus, fresh from a local farm thanks to my CSA. This dish comes together very quickly, so don't be intimidated by those salty beans. Don't overcook your asparagus either!

Asparagus with black bean sauce, makes 2 servings
1 tbs. Chinese black beans
1/2 c. water

3 tbs. water
2 tbs. soy sauce (low sodium)
1 tsp. mirin (or other cooking rice wine)
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. canola oil
14-16 spears of asparagus, sliced on a bias (about 2 1/2 c.)
1 large clove of garlic, sliced
1 heaping tsp. fresh minced ginger

Chinese black beans are fermented soy beans that have been preserved in salt. They have a distinct, pungent flavor with a hint of bitter smokiness, and are incredibly salty. A quick soak in water, plus low sodium soy sauce and no additional salt, make this dish incredibly tasty while still being far less salty than anything you'd get in a restaurant.

You can find them packaged in vacuum-packed plastic bags at a Chinese grocer. Because of all of the salt, they will keep indefinitely in an airtight container in the fridge, so don't worry about trying to use it all up. A little goes a long way!

Soak the beans in a small bowl for 5-10 minutes with the 1/2 c. of water, then drain.
Use the back of a spoon to crush the beans just slightly, then stir in the water, soy sauce, mirin, agave, cornstarch, and pepper. Set aside.

In a very hot pan or wok, stir fry the asparagus, garlic, and ginger in the canola oil. It should only take a couple minutes until they turn bright green and are just tender.

Pour the sauce mixture over the asparagus and stir. Turn off the heat and continue to stir for about 30 more seconds until the sauce thickens. (If you're blessed with a gas range, unlike me, you can leave the heat on for a little longer while the sauce thickens. With electric ranges, or even with heavy bottomed pans, there should be enough residual heat to finish the sauce without overcooking the asparagus.)

Enjoy immediately!


Anonymous said...

I've never heard of Chinese black beans before. Sounds good!

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Sounds great! I am loving asparagus season.

vko said...

Okay, I need my grandmother bring me some Chinese black beans- she's always got them in her pantry and it's time I got cooking with them again. Thanks for reminding me!

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julie hasson said...

Oh yum!!!!!!