Chinese meat-free feast to make at home

Healthy eating: Get all the flavour of the takeaway in this black bean dish

Ching-He Huang’s black bean tofu and baby pak choi.

With a flavour as strident as fermented black beans, something bland is needed to soak up the rich, savoury umami notes, and tofu is ideal. Having a bowl of steamed baby bak choi alongside adds freshness and lightness to this lovely meal, created by TV chef Ching-He Huang, author of a new book of Asian-influenced vegan recipes, Asian Green.

January is Health Month in The Irish Times. Throughout the month, in print and online, we will be offering encouragement and inspiration to help us all improve our physical and mental health in 2021. See

“I add a touch of a good-quality yellow bean sauce to give this dish a savoury, mellow edge. If you are able to buy ready-fried tofu from a Chinese supermarket, it has a sponge-like quality which is super delicious and a quick cheat,” Huang says.

“Alternatively, place a block of tofu in the freezer overnight, then defrost before use. The water crystals will produce large ‘pores’ in the tofu that make it extra spongy, helping it absorb lots of sauce, and therefore, flavour.”

Black bean tofu and baby pak choi

Serves 4 as a side dish

calories: 397; carbs: 53.4g; protein: 15.4g; fat: 14.0g

1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly grated root ginger
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 bird's eye chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp fermented salted black beans, rinsed and crushed
1 tbsp yellow bean paste or miso paste
250g ready-fried tofu (or regular tofu), quartered
1 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into 1.5cm (¾in) chunks
200ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp tamari or low-sodium light soy sauce
Cooked jasmine rice, to serve

For the pak choi:
200g (7oz) baby pak choi, halved
pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine
1 tbsp tamari or low-sodium light soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2.5cm (1in) piece of fresh root ginger, sliced into matchsticks


1 First, prepare the pak choi. Place a heatproof plate inside a bamboo steamer. Season the pak choi with salt, rice wine, tamari or light soy sauce and toasted sesame oil, then lay the ginger slices over the top. Place the lid on the steamer and set over a wok or pan of water. Bring to the boil, then gently steam over a low heat for 3-4 minutes.

2 In a small jug or cup, mix the cornflour with 2 tbsp water to create a slurry and set aside until needed.

3 Meanwhile, place a wok over a high heat and add the rapeseed oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add the garlic, ginger and chillies and stir-fry for a few seconds. Then add the black beans and yellow bean paste and stir quickly.

4 Add the tofu and stir-fry for 1 minute, keeping the ingredients moving in the wok, then add the rice wine or sherry and the green peppers and stir-fry for a further minute. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Season with the tamari or soy sauce, then add the cornflour slurry and stir to thicken.

5 Serve the black bean tofu and steamed baby pak choi with jasmine rice on the side and eat immediately.