Steamed Tofu with Black Bean Sauce

Updated July 06, 2016

I’ve heard the complaint countless times: tofu is too bland. Instead of seeing it as a flaw, however, I see it as a strength. The neutrality of tofu makes it the perfect food to absorb other flavors, especially strong ones, like salted black beans, which lend a distinctly pungent, smoky flavor to this recipe. Serve this dish with steamed brown rice for a truly tasty and healthy meal.


One of the best ways to retain the natural flavor and nutritional value of your ingredients. Steaming is also a very healthy cooking technique because it uses little or no fats or oils.

To steam, bring water to a boil in a wok or wide frying pan. Place the food in a heatproof dish and place it on a steamer rack above boiling water. Cover the steamer with a tight-fitting lid and steam until the food is done, adding additional water as needed. Remember to be very careful when removing the steamer lid. Always tilt the lid away from yourself, so the escaping steam will not burn you.

Makes4 servings

Cooking Methodsteaming



Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Recipe Coursemain course, side dish, starch

Dietary Considerationegg-free, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, vegetarian


Taste and Texturehot & spicy, light, savory, umami


  • 1 tbsp Black Bean Sauce or a store-bought version
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • One 16-ounce package soft tofu, drained
  • 1 green onion, julienned
  • 3 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 small red bird chile, sliced on the diagonal, leaving the seeds in for heat (optional)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


To make the sauce, combine the black bean sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar in a small bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Cut the tofu widthwise into 8 equal slices. Carefully transfer the tofu to a heatproof glass dish that will fit into your steamer comfortably.

Prepare a wok or stir-fry pan for steaming (see Notes). Steam the tofu, covered, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the top and steam for another 2 minutes. Garnish with the green onion, cilantro, and sliced chile, if using.

In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil to almost smoking and drizzle it over the top of the dish. Serve immediately.



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