What Will We Put Black Beans in Next?

What’s happening, my reduced-meat-eating friends?  It’s ok if I call you that, right?  I mean, I don’t expect you all to be vegetarians, but if you’re not eating at least a one or two meatless meals per week, then really, what are you doing reading this blog?  Work isn’t that boring, is it?  Come on, do it, don’t be a poser. 😉

[stir fry photo]I just have time for a quick post today, lots of research to do for school…as far as I know, this dissertation is not going to write itself.  When you’re finished reading this post, don’t be surprised if you find yourself  craving another blog post 30 minutes later.  Why?  It’s about Chinese food!  Even better, in keeping with what seems to be a theme running through recent NMA recipes, it involves black beans!  (From the comments, by Mel @ She Runs Brooklyn:  “Looks like there’s a black bean party goin’ on at NMA. What will you use it in next?”   This one’s for you, Mel!)

The recipe is a stir fry, and the best thing about it was how simple it was to make.  Remember what I said about giving this no-meat thing a try a few times a week?  Well, you’ll never find a better one to start with.  Tempeh has a very meaty texture (to me, anyway) and is a perfect vegetarian substitute for chicken.  The recipe that inspired this one is from the always-delicious, always-easy Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Vegetarian cookbook.  I made a few changes—mainly subbing tempeh for tofu, and kale for bok choy.  (This just in—Erin’s garden works!  Check out the sweet zuke!)

[zucchini photo]

In making many, many bad, limp stir-frys, I’ve become quite adept at effortlessly screwing them up.  With that knowledge, I’ve put together an NMA-exclusive, Matt’s Sure-Fire Ways to Botch a Stir-Fry:

  • Use olive oil, which has a low smoke point, in order to force an evacuation of your kitchen when you crank up the heat in the skillet.
  • Add minced garlic at the beginning with the oil, so that by the time you’re done, it’s a beautiful dark brown to light black color and tastes like death.
  • Add soy sauce very early to a hot skillet, so that it burns, coats the pan in a weird brown crust, and smells bad.
  • Use no seasoning other than soy sauce for a true flavor extravaganza.
  • And my favorite: let your veggies get completely cooked before you add your sauce, even overcooked, so that in the additional minute or two with the sauce they become completely soggy and gross.

Keep those keys in mind, and you too can make a terrible stir-fry that nobody will want to eat!

In all seriousness, I really like this recipe because you don’t need to worry about any of that.  The instructions are simple and it comes out great.  Just follow the instructions and you can’t screw up.  Well, maybe you can think of a way to.  If you do, I’d love to hear about it!

[stir fry close photo]

Tempeh Stir-Fry with Black Bean Sauce Recipe

Vegan Tempeh Stir-Fry with Black Bean Sauce
Serves: 4 Servings
  • 1 pound tempeh, cut into ¾ inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp black bean sauce (I used prepared, you could make it from scratch if desired)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ cup (4 Tbsp) Peanut oil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 small head of kale, leaves torn in half
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • ¼ pound sugar snap peas
  • soy sauce to adjust flavor
  • cooked brown rice (optional)
  1. In a small bown, whisk together the cornstarch and vegetable broth, then add the black bean sauce and sugar and stir together. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet over high heat (wait until it gets pretty hot), then add 3 Tbsp of peanut oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the tempeh cubes and let them brown for a few minutes, turning them quickly to let all sides touch the oil. Don't let them burn, you really just need to heat them through. Move to a plate lined with paper towels.
  3. Carefully wipe out the skillet (or heat another), return to heat and add the remaining Tbsp of peanut oil. Once it's hot, add all the vegetables and red pepper flakes. Stir everything quickly through the hot oil for about three minutes, until they're tender-crisp. Don't let them get soft, or even all the way tender! Add back the tempeh and add the sauce from the bowl, then stir everything together for another minute. (If the tempeh starts sticking to the pan, enough already!)
  4. Season with soy sauce to taste, and serve, optionally over rice.


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  1. You had me at black beans.

  2. YUM.

    I love stir fry.

  3. I love stir fry….mostly because it’s generally something I can’t mess up….apparently it’s not the same for you, lol. I have been known to add the garlic too soon…and do the sauce at the end trick as well…but somehow it always tastes good! I will have to try the black bean sauce next time 🙂 Also….instead of sugar I use agave and it adds a much better sweet and spicy flavor.
    .-= amy (veganissexy)´s last blog ..WINE & DINE LADIES NIGHT =-.

  4. That looks so tasty! Yum! I have to admit that I’m not very adept at the stir fry thing…
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..My Priorities =-.

  5. I love black beans so keep the recipes coming 😉 They so easily replace meat in a variety of dishes. Great work on the stir fry- yummmmm
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Anniversary Part 2 & Dinner =-.

  6. I love advice of what NOT to do (think about the blind date that didn’t call you back, think rice milk will taste like soy/almond milk, wear your running shoes on a hike)…
    Love the blog! Check mine out if you have the chance.
    .-= Special K ´s last blog ..Allow Yourself =-.

  7. Another great recipe and so easy too!
    .-= diana´s last blog ..All Alone =-.

  8. I find myself always saying “Ohh..amazing, adding that to my to-try list” but then my list keeps getting longer and longer and I never actually end up making any of the things I find myself drooling over.

    Long story short, this recipe is being added to my grocery list for tomorrow’s shopping trip. 😀 I absolutely LOVE tempeh and its texture. Much better then tofu, in my opinion, but that may be due to the fact I haven’t mastered tofu quite yet. 😉

    Thanks for sharing the recipe…can’t wait to try it!
    .-= Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)´s last blog ..The girl with the insatiable appetite… =-.

    • Hey Sarah, me too on the tempeh vs tofu thing. I just haven’t figured out tofu yet.

      I do the same thing about seeing stuff on the internet, believing I’m going to make it, then forgetting about it. Check out evernote.com, it’s this free thing that you download and you get a single button on your browser. Then all you have to do is highlight text and click the button, and it adds it to your notebook, like a little recipe card. I love it and it’s made me actually make all these things I see that I want to try.

  9. hahahaha thanks for the shoutout Matt! Hilarious.

    I love tempeh– this recipe looks delicious 🙂
    .-= Mel @ She Runs Brooklyn´s last blog ..Comeback Skeeter Attack =-.

  10. Great post! This recipe sounds delicious! I’ll have to give tempeh a try, since I’ve only worked with tofu. By the way, if it helps, my tofu never came out right in things like stir fry until I started extracting all the water before cooking with it…start with thinly sliced firm or extra firm tofu, then place the tofu in a single layer between paper towels and gently (but firmly) press down to extract the water…hope this helps! 🙂
    .-= Faith´s last blog ..Arabic Stuffed Zucchini (Kousa Mahshi) =-.

    • Thanks Faith! I’ve tried drying tofu a good bit, but really it never occurred to me that slicing it thin would make the process much more effective. Good tip. I do like tofu every once in a while when it’s nice and seared.

  11. Lauren A. says:

    I made this last night and it definitely turned out better than any other stir fry I’ve made (probably because I did one or more of those things on your list of what NOT to do when cooking stir fry). I used broccoli instead of sugar snap peas, because otherwise it was going to go bad. And I used half tempeh, half tofu, because my brain failed to remember that there are 16oz in a pound, not 8oz when I was at the grocery store. Either way, it turned out delish!! I will definitely be making this again. Thank you for the recipe/idea!

    • That’s great Lauren, I love when people make the stuff! And I’m all for substituting with what you have in your fridge. I used to not do it much, but with veggies, I’m always stuck with a few extras from the farmers market.

      Thanks for reading my blog and letting me know your meal turned out.

  12. Everything I’ve tried has worked, but I just caught this one. (I use Delicious to keep track of things I save.)
    Note: the Chinese black bean sauce is not made with the same black beans we use in the US.

  13. I’m one of the “reduced meat eaters;” I do Meatless Monday and no meat on Fridays (Catholic) at a minimum, trying to work up to 4-5 days a week meatless. I think I’m going to try marinating the tempeh in the sauce for an hour before cooking, and veggie wise I’ll do red bell pepper, yellow squash, kale, broccoli, and probably carrots. And serve over quinoa. I can’t wait! 🙂

  14. Ann Whitman says:

    Well I’m downing a glass of dry rose wine and didn’t have some of these ingredients….like what is Black Bean Sauce..well I got out my electric chopper and put a can of Bushes black beans and pulverized them and added chicken broth and cornstarch. Than I didn’t have the veggies listed so I used some bok choy and a bag of Birds Eye Recipe Stir Fry veggies. I also threw the rice into my crockpot and toasted it and than finished it off in the microwave. First time I think I’ve had tempeh but I like fried Tofu so I should be okay . I also threw in some crumbled bacon. So much for vegan!

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