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Tofu with Chinese Black Bean Sauce

This Chinese-style tofu with black bean sauce is absolutely delicious and super easy to make! Made with pan-fried tofu, fermented soybeans, ginger and garlic, it’s loaded with flavor and almost as easy as ordering takeout!

White wooden surface set with plate of Tofu with Chinese Black Bean Sauce and bowl of rice.

It’s no secret at this point that I’m fond of recreating vegan versions of my old favorite Chinese restaurant dishes. In fact, I’ve got an entire collection of Chinese-inspired vegan recipes!

Tofu with black bean sauce is one of those dishes. I used to love ordering it at the Chinese vegetarian restaurant near my old office, but I had no idea what was involved in making it. In fact, I initially thought the black beans were the same black beans I kept cans of in my pantry for making stuff like chili and black bean burritos.

I was wrong! The black beans used to make black bean tofu are actually fermented black soybeans, also known as douchi. Because they’re fermented they add a lot of umami flavor to dishes. A little bit of these beans go a long way! In particular they make an absolutely scrumptious sauce for pan-fried tofu.

Jump to:

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Fermented black beans. Also known as douchi, look for these in Asian markets. You can also buy them online. Don’t try to substitute the canned black beans you’d find at the supermarket — they will not work and your sauce will taste all wrong.
  • Peanut oil. You can substitute just about any high-heat oil, such as corn oil, canola oil, or coconut oil.
  • Scallions.
  • Garlic.
  • Ginger.
  • Soy sauce. Liquid aminos or gluten-free tamari could be substituted if needed.
  • Granulated sugar. Make sure your sugar is organic in order to keep the recipe vegan.
  • Rice wine vinegar. Look for this in the international foods section of your supermarket, or find it in the Asian market when you go there to buy your beans.
  • Sambal oelek. This chili paste can be found in the international section at most supermarkets. Sririacha works as a substitute for this, or you can leave it out for a heat-free version of tofu with black bean sauce.
  • Cornstarch.
  • Toasted sesame oil.
  • Tofu. Extra-firm or super firm tofu for this recipe. If you use extra firm tofu it will need to be pressed before cooking.
  • Cooked rice. This is for serving with your tofu. I prefer jasmine rice, but use your favorite.

How It’s Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Start by rehydrating your black beans. Place them in a small container and cover them with hot water. Let them soak for an hour to soften up.
  • Drain the beans and mash them with a fork.
Fork with mashed fermented black beans in a glass bowl.
  • To make your sauce, start by heating up some oil in a small saucepan. Add your aromatics: chopped scallions (white parts only), minced garlic, and grated ginger. Cook everything briefly.
Scallions, garlic, and ginger cooking in oil in a saucepan.
  • Stir in some water, along with your black beans, soy sauce, sugar, rice wine vinegar, and sambal oelek. Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes.
Black bean sauce simmering in a saucepan.
  • After 10 minutes, stir some cold water and cornstarch together in a small cup, then pour the mixture into your sauce.
  • Bring the sauce back up to a simmer. It should thicken slightly. Take if off of the burner once it does, then stir in some sesame oil.
Thickened black bean sauce simmering in a saucepan.
  • Pan-fry your tofu while the sauce simmers. Heat some oil in a skillet and cook pieces of cut tofu for about 10 minutes on each side, until they’re golden brown.

Tip: I like to cut my tofu into triangles for this recipe, but feel free to dice it or cut it into strips if that’s your preference.

Tofu triangles cooking in a skillet.
  • Pour the sauce over your cooked tofu. Stir everything up, and once it comes to a simmer you can take the skillet off of heat.
Tofu simmering with black bean sauce.
  • Add the green parts of your scallions to your skillet. Your black bean tofu is now ready to serve!
Skillet filled with Tofu with Chinese Black Bean Sauce and scallions.

Leftovers & Storage

Leftover tofu with black bean sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 4 days.

More Chinese-Inspired Tofu Recipes

Like this recipe? If so, please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this one!

Plate of Tofu with Chinese Black Bean Sauce with chopsticks on the side.

Tofu with Chinese Black Bean Sauce

This Chinese-style tofu with black bean sauce is absolutely delicious and super easy to make! Made with pan-fried tofu, fermented soybeans, ginger and garlic, it’s loaded with flavor and almost as easy as ordering takeout!

Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • ¼
    cup
    fermented black beans
    (douchi)
  • 2
    tablespoons
    peanut oil,
    divided
  • 2
    scallions,
    white and green parts separated and chopped
  • 3
    garlic cloves,
    minced
  • 2
    teaspoons
    freshly grated ginger

  • cup
    water
  • 1
    tablespoon
    soy sauce,
    plus more to taste (I used 2 tablespoons)
  • 1
    tablespoon
    organic granulated sugar
  • 1
    tablespoon
    rice vinegar
  • 1
    teaspoon
    sambal oelek
  • 1
    tablespoon
    cold water
  • 1
    teaspoon
    toasted sesame oil
  • 1
    teaspoon
    cornstarch
  • 1
    (15 ounce) package
    super firm or extra firm tofu (Note 1),
    drained and cut into 1-inch triangles (Note 2)
  • Cooked rice,
    for serving

Instructions

  1. Place the beans into a small bowl and cover them with hot water. Let them soak for 1 hour.

  2. Drain the beans then mash them with a fork.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan.

  4. When the oil is hot, add the white parts of your scallions, along with the garlic and ginger. Sauté everything for about 1 minute, until very fragrant.

  5. Stir in ⅔ cup of water, along with the mashed beans, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, and sambal oelek.

  6. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat and let it cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes.

  7. While the sauce simmers, coat the bottom of a medium skillet with the remaining tablespoon of oil and place it over medium heat.

  8. When the oil is hot, add the tofu pieces in an even layer. Allow them to cook for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden brown on both sides.

  9. After the sauce has simmered for 10 minutes, stir the cold water and cornstarch together in a small container, then add the mixture to the sauce.

  10. Bring the sauce back to a simmer. Once it thickens up (after about 30 seconds), remove the pot from heat and stir in the sesame oil.

  11. Carefully pour the sauce into the skillet with the tofu. It should quickly come to a simmer. Stir everything to combine, then remove the skllet from heat and add the green parts of your scallions.

  12. Serve the black bean tofu with rice.

Recipe Notes

  1. If using extra firm tofu, it will need to be pressed before cooking.
  2. I like to cut my tofu into 32 triangles. Start by cutting your block, length-wise, into 8 rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half to make 2 squares. Cut each square in half to make 2 triangles.
  3. Nutrition information does not include rice.

Nutrition Facts

Tofu with Chinese Black Bean Sauce

Amount Per Serving

Calories 201
Calories from Fat 126

% Daily Value*

Fat 14g22%

Saturated Fat 2.5g13%

Sodium 842mg35%

Potassium 208mg6%

Carbohydrates 9.6g3%

Fiber 2.8g11%

Sugar 4.4g5%

Protein 13.5g27%

Calcium 226mg23%

Iron 2mg11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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