Vegetable Stir-Fry with Black Bean Sauce

Very tasty vegetarian option to go along side a Chinese themed meal. Works great as a main accompanied with rice.

I made the meal on Father's Day and I had decided to do a Chinese meal. So the plan was to have the trusty pork chow mein along with a special fried rice. My sister was coming too, so I needed a vegetarian option as well. I dug out my Chinese cook book, browsed through and found this recipe for vegetables in black bean sauce. In my opinion it needs tweaking slightly because personally I found it too salty which was probably due to the amount of dark soy they say to put in. Next time I think I'll be either reducing the amount of dark soy, or change to light soy.

This recipe gave me the opportunity to try cooking with Tofu. I've only ever used it once which was a failure and put me off. Good time to try again.

I thought it would be wise to make the dish for 4 people just in case the meat eaters around the table wanted to try the dish. It was a good job I did because everyone tucked in. There was none left at the end of the meal which can only mean that it was a success. Let's get on to the recipe.

Ingredients for Vegetable Stir-Fry in Black Bean Sauce

Serves 4 as a main course with rice. Don't fear the long list of ingredients. Prepare them before cooking and it will be fine.

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 4-5 spring onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 fresh chilli chopped fine (I used a medium, I think I'll use 2 medium next time)
  • 2 tablespoons of water chestnuts
  • 1 courgette / zucchini, chopped into small cubes
  • 2 large handfuls of chopped mushrooms (chopped fine for me)
  • 3 tablespoons of black bean sauce (normally available in supermarkets in foreign foods section)
  • 2 tablespoons of dry sherry (or Chinese rice wine if you can find it)
  • 4 tablespoons of dark soy (this I would either reduce or change to light soy)
  • 250 grams of tofu, drained, squeezed out and chopped into cubes
  • large pinch of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • sprinkle of sesame oil


How to make Vegetable Stir-Fry in Black Bean Sauce

Put a serving dish in your oven on low (80 degrees C).

Use a wok or large non-stick frying pan with deep sides. Heat the oil to a high temperature, just smoking. Lower the heat slightly (you still want it fairly high) and put in the spring onions and garlic. Stir-fry these for 30 seconds to a minute, be careful it won't take long to burn them at this temperature. Add the peppers, chilli, water chestnuts and the courgette / zucchini and fry away until they begin to cook through and soften. Keep everything moving so that they don't stick and burn.

Once they've started to go this is when you need to add the mushrooms, the tofu, sherry, soy sauce, sugar, water and sugar. Continue to move everything around to mix in the flavours.

When you are happy that the ingredients have cooked and combined together to create the sauce it is ready to serve. Put into a serving dish and add the sprinkle of sesame oil. 

I wasn't ready to serve straight away because I had other dishes to cook so I then placed the serving dish back in the oven to keep warm until I was finished cooking all of the other dishes.

I served this dish along side a vegetable special fried rice. Rice works really well with the sauce.


What have I taken from cooking this recipe?

First of all, I now have no problem with using Tofu. Seems a great ingredient as long as it's used correctly. I'm glad to have added this to my list of ingredients.

Secondly, don't always trust recipes in books. This one certainly needs tweeking, well for my taste buds anyway.

Thirdly, when making a vegetarian option for dinner guests always make enough for everyone around the table because the meat-eaters will 'steal' the vegetarian guest's food.

And finally, once again I've proved to myself that meals suitable for vegetarian's are both tasty and filling. I shouldn't be scared to avoid the meat!

Vegetable Stir-Fry with Black Bean Sauce

Source for original recipe: Classic Chinese Recipes.