This week's recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen
This week, Andrea Nguyen writes about Chinese fermented black beans:
Wrinkly Chinese fermented black beans look as though they have just emerged from an archaeological site. Indeed, the salty, pungent little bits are an ancient Chinese staple. Made of black or yellow soybeans, they were once the only soy-based seasoning used all over China but nowadays are mostly employed in southern Chinese cooking.
Called dou chi in Mandarin and dul see in Cantonese, you may know them as the punchy dark flecks in the sparerib nuggets at dim sum. But fermented black beans are remarkably versatile. The beans can star as the gutsy seasoning responsible for the signature flavor of such favorites as clams with black bean sauce. But they don’t mind playing a supporting role too. When braised with meat, they recede into the background to lend an alluring earthiness to the sauce. Use them in vegetarian dishes to imbue ingredients such as tofu with umami depth. Or add them to chile oil to establish a savory backbone.
Used both as a seasoning and flavoring, she showcases the beans in a variety of recipes.
This week's recipes include:
- Chile oil
- Clams in black bean sauce
- Vegetarian Hunan-style tofu
- Pork riblets braised in black bean sauce
- Elway's charred red pepper soup
When you try one of this week's recipes or any L.A. Times recipe, let us know! Upload a photo onto the "Our recipes, your kitchen" gallery to share your take on the recipe and tell us about yourself. Your photo will be posted online and may be selected to run in print with our weekly section.
-- Noelle Carter
Photo: Pork riblets braised in garlic and black bean sauce. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times