When soaking Chinese fermented black beans, you are faced with the same problem as you are with salt cod: If you didn’t like the saltiness of the product, you wouldn’t be eating it in the first place. So don’t soak out all the flavor. Yet the beans can be terrifyingly strong, and you do not need a lot of them. More often than not, you will find this sauce is best as an accent “drizzle” sauce, for both color and taste contrasts. Poached fish with a lobster cream sauce and black bean sauce drizzled over, served with fresh fava beans in butter, makes a meal that is an ideal balance of flavors.
Rinse and then soak the beans in water, changing the water twice, for 2 to 3 hours, depending on your fondness for the taste and the use for the sauce.
Drain the beans, rinse under running water, and put in a blender. Add the stock and blend to a fine puree.
Put the puree in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter one piece at a time. Season to taste with pepper and keep in a warm place.
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