Steamed veg & tofu with sesame black bean sauce

24 Feb

This recipe is the result of a glorious sojourn to London’s Chinatown. Man Woman realised we had not been for years, despite constant complaints about the lack of east Asian produce anywhere in London. Anywhere except, you know, in the smackbang centre of it.

So we spent our Sunday afternoon gleefully wallowing in the New Loon Moon Supermarket, picking up ingredients from the eastern Orient, getting jostled by other more regular customers who clearly did not share our White People’s Joy at shopping at an ethnic supermarket.

Thus armed with a bamboo steamer and black bean sauce for the first time in nearly 5 years, Man Woman made this super quick mid-week (we can dream on a Monday) meal. Those Chinese. First they invent golf and then they invent (I’m sure) black bean sauce. Top stuff, China. Nice work.

A note about tofu here. Don’t use the Cauldron brand or other such. If it’s covered in cardboard, if the packaging does not allow you to see the tofu, as a general rule, don’t buy it. It’s probably inexplicably dry and chewy. This recipe needs good quality, fresh tofu – but it’s still dirt cheap. A 600g packet of tofu – enough for 2 very tofu-heavy dinners for 2 – cost about £1.60. Man Woman may dedicate a post to this in future, but green grocers, Asian supermarkets and health food shops should stock fresh tofu, which should be in a tray with a clear plastic cover and partially covered in water. Also, the Mori-Nu UHT-style tofu, sold in Sainsbury’s Clapham for £1, is perfectly good and fresh. At all costs, avoid Cauldron. God knows what they do to the beans.

Sesame black bean sauce

  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 TBSP sesame seeds
  • 3 TBSP black bean sauce
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1 large clove crushed garlic


  • 2 bunches spinach
  • 300g fresh tofu, cut into chunky cubes
  • Bunch of enoki mushrooms

Corn noodles

Get water boiling in a pot underneath your steamer thingie. Throw in cubed tofu (we found no need to drain the tofu) and enoki mushrooms.

Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat vegetable oil. When hot – but not crazy hot – add sesame seeds. When they start to colour add blackbean sauce, lemon juice, water and garlic. Stir and adjust proportions to taste.

After about 5 minutes of steaming, and checking that the water is boiling, lift the steam levels and throw in your noodles. At this time also add the spinach (or whatever greens you fancy) to the steamer.

Keep sauce simmering in the pan.

Cook for about 5 minutes. Serve noodles and veg with sauce drizzled over.

Estimated cost: £2.60

Musical accompaniment: Seasick Steve

A happy steamer spinach monster!


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