Dinner Tonight: Steamed Tofu with Shrimp and Black Bean Sauce

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Is there anything more boring than steamed tofu? I adore tofu when it's pan-fried, or slipped into some luxurious sauce. But I tend to pass the steamed version as quickly as possible. So why did I settle on this recipe from Food and Wine? Maybe it was the fermented black beans, which lend a meatiness to everything they touch. I can safely say, I was thinking more of the shrimp than the tofu when digging into this dish.

But now all I can think about is the texture of the tofu. It was very delicate, but still firm. I loved the way it latched onto the sauce, and almost preferred it to the shrimp. It's not the most exciting dish in the world, and some Sriracha wouldn't be out of place. But the key to this dish? It feels restorative and clean, which I'm sometimes in the mood for.

Dinner Tonight: Steamed Tofu with Shrimp and Black Bean Sauce

About This Recipe


  • 1/2 cup fermented black beans
  • 1 1/2 pounds firm tofu (two 1 1/2-inch-thick squares), both cut into 8 triangles
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 24 medium shrimp (about 10 ounces), shelled and deveined
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger, thinly julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup Chinese cooking wine
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Handful cilantro, chopped


  1. 1

    Add the fermented black beans to a bowl and cover with warm water. Let hang out for 10 minutes and then drain.

  2. 2

    Fill a pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Transfer the tofu to a steamer basket. Place the basket in the pot, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

  3. 3

    Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into large wok set over high heat. Toss in the shrimp and cook until pink, stirring constantly, until pink. That should take about 1 minute. Set aside.

  4. 4

    Pour the rest of the oil into the wok. Turn the heat to medium and then add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the black beans and cook for another minute, and then add the wine, stock, and sugar. Turn the heat to medium-high and let reduce for 2 minutes.

  5. 5

    Transfer the tofu and shrimp to a plate and drizzle with the sauce and garnish with cilantro.


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