steamed mussels with black bean garlic sauce

steamed mussels with black bean garlic sauceOne of the first sauces we tried when we moved to Hong Kong was the black bean.  The description alone made us wonder how much our senses were going to be assaulted.   After all, how could fermented black soybeans taste anything but salty and smell stinky?  That was the westernness coming out in me or rather my ignorance believing what was authentic Chinese.

But to be fair, the closest thing to trying Chinese food where I grew up, was a very watered down version of Chinese cuisine. What’s more, there are dishes Chinese never eat; they were more of a western invention to satisfy those palates.  Think of sweet and sour pork drowned in a ridiculous gloopy sweet orangey-red sauce with pineapple chunks tossed in.  Sure, as a kid and young adult, I devoured it!  And why not?  It was sweet.  Unlike the thick egg rolls with an unappetizing filling one finds in North America, the egg rolls from the east are smaller (delicate), thin crust, crispy and by the way, edible!  Fortune cookies are a North American sensation and they’re not even Chinese!  Yep, this bland cookie hails from Japan.

The next time you enter a Chinese restaurant (hopefully filled with more Asians than westerners), I dare you to move out of your comfort zone and try one new dish even if the description makes you feel a bit uncomfortable.  You might be pleasantly surprised and your taste buds will thank you.

Most grocery shops carry Asian condiments.  I keep a jar of black bean garlic sauce in the refrigerator.  Give an added extra oomph to food, add a tablespoon or more to soups or stews, stir-fries, and as a rub for meat and poultry.  It lasts forever in the fridge.  This dish is a lovely appetizer that’s super easy to make, doesn’t put a strain on your pocketbook, and tastes unbelievably good!

Serves 2 to 4
1 kg. (2 lbs.) mussels
splash of oil
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red chili, sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
2 spring onions, sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon black bean garlic sauce
2 tablespoons water
sesame oil

For the sauce, heat oil in a small saucepan.  Add garlic and ginger.  Stir until fragrant then add soy sauce, rice wine, black bean sauce, and water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for a minute.  Remove from heat and add a few drops of sesame oil; stir.

Prep the mussels by removing any beards and discard any that are cracked.  Place mussels in a large pot with a splash of water, cover, and cook over medium-high heat until shells have opened (about 3 or 4minutes).  Give the pot a shake from time to time. The mussels are cooked when they’ve opened up. Be sure to discard any that don’t open.

When mussels are cooked, remove from pot and place on a serving plate.  Spoon black bean sauce over mussels and top with sliced chili and spring onions.

HOW TO EAT MUSSELS –  you do not need a fork or spoon! Take the opened shell and break away the half that doesn’t have the meat attached.  Use this half shell to scoop out the meat while cutting through the tiny muscle that holds the meat in place.  Eat the scooped mussel from the shell and use this half shell to scoop up any sauce.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Store mussels in the fridge until ready to cook.  Enjoy!

steamed mussels with black bean garlic sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Most grocery shops carry Asian condiments. I keep a jar of black bean garlic sauce in the refrigerator. I add a tablespoon or more to soups or stews, stir-fries, and as a rub for meat and poultry. It lasts forever in the fridge.
Author:
Recipe type: snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 kg. (2 lbs.) mussels
  • splash of oil
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chili, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon black bean garlic sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • sesame oil
Instructions
  1. For the sauce, heat oil in a small saucepan. Add garlic and ginger. Stir until fragrant then add soy sauce, rice wine, black bean sauce, and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for a minute. Remove from heat and add a few drops of sesame oil; stir.
  2. Prep the mussels by removing any beards and discard any that are cracked. Place mussels in a large pot with a splash of water, cover, and cook over medium-high heat until shells have opened (about 3 or 4minutes). Give the pot a shake from time to time. The mussels are cooked when they’ve opened up. Be sure to discard any that don’t open.
  3. When mussels are cooked, remove from pot and place on a serving plate. Spoon black bean sauce over mussels and top with sliced chili and spring onions.
  4. HOW TO EAT MUSSELS – you do not need a fork or spoon! Take the opened shell and break away the half that doesn’t have the meat attached. Use this half shell to scoop out the meat while cutting through the tiny muscle that holds the meat in place. Eat the scooped mussel from the shell and you can use this half shell to scoop up any sauce.
  5. The Culinary Chase’s Note: Store mussels in the fridge until ready to cook. Enjoy!