Salmon Steamed with Black Beans


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • serves


Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

This is a full-flavored steamed dish. The Chinese are masters at this technique. Instead of salmon, you can use any meaty seafood, such as sea bass or even scallops or shrimp, adjusting cooking times accordingly. Oysters in the shell are also delicious. I usually use a Chinese bamboo steamer set over a pot of boiling water. The advantage of these steamers is that you can stack several on top of each other to easily double the recipe. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, you can jury-rig your own with any deep pot that has a tight-fitting cover and is wide enough to hold the steaming plate. Place an ovenproof ramekin on the bottom of the pot to elevate the plate above the boiling water.


  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry or Shaoxing (rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • Pinch of Freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons homemade chicken or vegetable stock or your favorite canned broth
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced garlic
  • cups sliced shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and very finely slivered fresh ginger
  • 4 thick salmon fillets or steaks, about 5 ounces each
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese dried (fermented) black beans, rinsed well


In a blender, combine the soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, sesame oil, pepper, and stock and blend for a few seconds. With the motor running, slowly add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to form a lightly thickened sauce. Set aside.

In a sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat and quickly Sauté the garlic, mushrooms, and ginger until just cooked through. Place the fish on a heatproof plate (or plates) that will fit in your steamer. Top each fillet with some of the mushroom mixture and then spoon some of the blender sauce over that. Sprinkle the black beans around the fillets and carefully put the plate(s) in the steamer. Cover and steam over boiling water until the fish is just cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Serve with the mushrooms, black beans, and juices spooned over.