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Asparagus with Black Bean Butter Sauce

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Asparagus with Black Bean Butter Sauce is a tried and try recipe that I make every spring. I only make it at this time of year when the asparagus is at its’ peak. After enjoying asparagus simply steamed with butter I’m ready to try something different.

No surprise that it is an Asian sauce that appeals to me.

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A Seasonal Strategy

Don’t be fooled by the abundance of choice at the grocery store. Foods are flown in from all over the globe and sadly many do not benefit from that travel. Regardless of where your produce comes from it does actually have a peak season.

As a young cook (before Google) I wanted to know what produce was in season. Eventually I learned and began to look forward to raspberries in July, corn in August and tomatoes in September. Of course I enjoy these foods at other times but the taste of produce locally grown, fresh from a garden is worth looking for.

So I encourage you to include a seasonal strategy into your cooking. This adds variety to your weekly menu and over time you develop certain dishes that you look forward to during their peak season.

Spring is asparagus season so enjoy it. The season is short.

Make as many recipes as you can. Eat it in cold salads, as a topping on pizza, pureed in soup, grilled with a favourite marinade or create a fancy pattern in the middle of a baked egg dish. There is no end to delicious asparagus recipes.

Soon enough the prices become exorbitant and the asparagus doesn’t look fresh. That’s how you know asparagus season is over.

Asparagus with Black Bean Butter Sauce

At my Asian grocery store I buy this round, yellow cardboard box of Yang Jiang fermented black beans. The exact same one I’ve been buying for thirty years. You can read more about this ingredient in my post on fermented black soybeans. They have a unique umami taste and in this recipe the flavours explode in your mouth.

Serve this Asparagus with Black Bean Butter Sauce beside simply steamed fish or grilled chicken. If you are looking for other recipes that use these black beans check these out:

Let me know in the comments below if you have used Chinese black beans and what you thought of this recipe.


2 lbs asparagus, ends trimmed
1 Tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup GF chicken stock
2 Tbsp dry sherry
1 Tbsp GF soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
½ tsp sugar
⅛ tsp pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds


Coarsely chop fermented black beans. Combine with garlic and set aside.
In a 1-cup measuring cup combine chicken stock, sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and pepper.
Fill large saucepan with water and bring to a boil.
Add asparagus and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
In a small bowl whisk cornstarch with 1 Tbsp water. Set aside.
Place 2 Tbsp butter in a 10-inch skillet set over medium-high heat.
When butter sizzles add black beans and garlic. Sauté just until the garlic sizzles.
Add sauce and bring to a low boil.
Add cornstarch mixture and immediately stir sauce until thickened. (For a thinner sauce add only half of the cornstarch mixture.)
Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp butter.
Arrange asparagus in serving dish. Pour on sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve hot.


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