Beef and Asparagus in Black Bean Sauce

You guys want to eat some flies?

Say what?

My grandpa used to tease us kids and pretend he was about to feed us flies everytime he made something in black bean sauce. You’ll see why in a min.  We’d quickly walk back to our grandparents house after summer school knowing there was a table of food waiting for us. Grandpa would usually make two dishes to eat with rice or for something quick, he would make us some noodles in soup with veggies.  We’d rush up the stairs, throw our backpacks on the floor, and run to the table to wait for the food to magically appear…

“Flies for lunch today!” he would say in Chinese. Can you imagine the faces of 4-9 year olds dropping with disappointment and disgust?! Then he’d laugh and bring us the real food he had cooked for us. The stir-fried veggies in black bean sauce aka flies, was for him and grandma. Because of that, i didn’t eat anything in black bean sauce until i was in high school! i wished i was more adventerous as a child and ate those flies cause, damn they’re good!

Now when I say black beans, I’m sure you’re thinking of the black beans that are found in burritos and salads.  In black bean sauce, dried fermented black beans are used.  I know it sounds gross, but they’re salty and extremely flavorful.  I like to pair them with chicken or beef and a strong hearty vegetable, such as asparagus or green and red peppers.  Black beans can be found in Asian supermarkets either dried on their own or already prepared as a sauce that comes in a small jar.

This past week, it’s been sunny but chilly in San Francisco.  The brightness of the sun and the blue skies trick me when I look out the window in the morning to help me decide what to wear that day.

I always find myself running back into the house to grab a scarf or a thicker jacket, sometimes both.  The weather reminds me of certain days taking the shortcut across the baseball field to get back to the grandparents house.  I was craving for something a little homey and beef and asparagus in black bean sauce is what I came up with.

Beef and Asparagus in Black Bean Sauce

12 spears of asparagus, cut into 2″ pieces

1/2 lb. flank steak

2 tbsp. soy sauce

4 cloves garlic, minced and divided in half

1 tsp. mirin

1/2 tsp. sesame oil


2 tbsp. dried black beans

half of a small onion, sliced thinly

2 tbsp. oil

2 tbsp. water

Boil a pot of water.  Wash your asparagus and hold each end of the asparagus.  Break the bottom portion of the asparagus at its natural breaking point.  Doing this removes the tough part of the stem. Discard the tough pieces.  Cut the asparagus into 2″ pieces and blanch them in the boiling water.  Set aside.

Slice your flank steak into thin pieces and place in a small bowl.  Add the soy sauce, mirin, 2 cloves of garlic, sesame oil, and a couple cracks of pepper into the bowl.  Stir so that all of the meat gets coated in the sauce.  Set aside for 20 minutes.

When the meat is done marinating, heat a wok or a heavy pan with the oil.  Add the onions and cook them for about a minute.  Throw in the remaining 2 tablespoons of garlic along with all of the meat.  Add the water.  Stir fry the meat and onions until the meat is almost done-about 4 minutes.

Rinse the black beans in a small bowl and drain.  Lay the black beans on a cutting board and run a large knife through them.  Also, with the side of your knife, smash some of the beans into a paste.  Add the black beans into the meat cooking in the pan and continue cooking for about 30 seconds.  See the whole beans sitting on the knife?  Don’t they kind of look like flies with no legs or wings? Hahaha.. yeah, I now, we’re weird and gross. SO WHAT!!?

Add the blanched asparagus and mix with the meat and sauce until coated.

Serve with rice and don’t forget to pour all of the sauce over the rice!

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