Steamed Rockcod with Black Bean Sauce

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I am thoroughly enjoying my armchair travels to China while reading through Martin Yan’s China, my newest cookbook adventure. Beautifully photographed with recipes that are well written and provide insights to many regions, Chef Yan invites the home cook to explore the tastes and sensations in their own kitchens. Each section encourages you to perhaps step outside your normal routine and surprise yourself. Rest assured, Yan’s experience as a master chef, teacher and PBS food star brings not only well tested and trustworthy recipes, but humor and insight to his culinary homeland.

The past few weeks during my Fish on Tuesdays I have to admit to being caught in a rut, relying mostly on the same old, same preparations that are good, but overused to the verge of boring. How sinful to waste the opportunity to bring out the best in fresh caught local seafood to my table. Looking for inspiration I turned to my new cookbook (specifically page 154) and changed my thinking in an instant with the title, simply Steamed Rockfish in Black Bean Sauce. Black Bean Sauce is a staple in my pantry where I most frequently use it in beef stir-fry. I had never considered it as an accompaniment for fish. But like other Asian savory fermented sauces, this actually makes good sense.

The resulting dish, fish marinated and steamed in black bean sauce laced with chili garlic and ginger provides an earthy, slightly fermented undertone  — that savory umami moment with a bit of heat.  Served on a bed of cellophane noodles infused with the rich broth and topped with sweet tomatoes, green onions and basil which hits the high notes of freshness. All in all, very satisfying, though for those with mild palates, perhaps a bit bold.  I encourage you to give it a try, stretch out that comfort zone a little further, and adapt the heat to your taste.

Rockcod, noodles, tomatoes

Steamed Rockcod with Black Bean Sauce
A slight adaptation from the recipe from the cookbook Martin Yan's China. Savory, tasty with bean thread noodles that makes a great meal.
Recipe type: Seafood
Cuisine: Chinese
  • 1-1 ½ pounds Rockcod cut in 4 like-sized pieces
  • 1 oz. dried Bean Thread Noodles (Saifun)
  • Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
  • 1 large clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 tablespoon Black Bean Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low salt Chicken Stock
  • 1 tablespoon dry Sherry or Rice Wine
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Garlic Sauce
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground White Pepper
  • 8-12 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 2 each Green Onions finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Basil, chopped
  • Sesame oil
  1. Soak noodles in a large bowl for at least 15 minutes in warm water.
  2. Prepare large pot or wok for steaming and find a heatproof shallow dish for layering noodles and fish that will fit in your steam pot.
  1. Warm vegetable oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and ginger to oil and cook briefly, 15-30 seconds.
  3. Add balance of sauce ingredients into pan and bring to a low boil, lower heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and cool down for a few minutes.
  5. Place fish in a bowl and coat with cooled sauce.
  6. Marinate for 15 minutes.
  7. Drain noodles and place in bottom of shallow heatproof dish.
  8. Place fish in a single layer over noodles and add tomatoes over top.
  9. Using a spatula, scrape all remaining marinade over fish and tomatoes.
  10. Check water levels in pot/wok and place dish making sure it is level, cover and steam over boiling water for 15 minutes, until fish is opaque and nearly flaky.
  11. Check noodles to make sure they are cooked through and limp, if necessary, remove fish to platter and cover with foil and continue cooking noodles in the remaining broth until done to your liking.
Adapted recipe from Martin Yan’s China Steamed Rockfish in Black Bean Sauce, page 154
Saifun Noodles are also called Cellophane Noodles and are usually made from mung beans and are gluten free. They should be soaked to reconstituted before cooking. You can also skip that and just deep fry for a crispy fun addition to a dish.


About Rockfish 

What is “Fish on Tuesdays?” I am a supporting member of Local Catch Monterey Bay, a community supported fishery for Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties and our fresh fish delivery is on Tuesdays, so we dubbed it Fish on Tuesdays! 

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9 Responses to Steamed Rockcod with Black Bean Sauce

  1. Jamie says:

    Mmmmmm this looks so flavorful and tasty! I love the flavors (black bean sauce reminds me of a black bean dish we would always order in our favorite Asian restaurant in Milan, believe it or not)! I admire you for cooking fish once a week and your adventurous spirit. Too often we make the same old, same old. I love this recipe… will see what products I can get in our local Asian shop.

    • Robin E. H. Ove says:

      So happy to have you stop by Jamie! It is so much fun so share these tasting adventures with you. The ingredients are pretty basic so I hope you have great success finding what you need in Nantes.

  2. Lynn says:

    I am in a rut with grilled salmon- not such a bad thing to be in a rut with but variety is always nice. I earmarked this when I saw it pop up; I can smell and taste the depth of these Asian flavors that approach umami. Look forward to indulging in this dish. Lovely pic Robin!

    • Robin E. H. Ove says:

      I know what you mean Lynn, to be so blessed by an abundance of fresh salmon and finding yourself needing to change it up. I was right there too 🙂

  3. Denise says:

    Love this idea Robin! I tend to go the Italian or Scandinavian route with fish, but combining it with Asian flavors is a great suggestion. Thanks! Hope you’re well, xoxo

    • Robin E. H. Ove says:

      Oh Denise, I have something Scandinavian in mind soon! Glad you like this idea! All is good here my friend.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Robin!

    Although it’s not on any *set* day, we too have fish quite often and this looks terrific. I’ve never heard of rockcod; is there another name for it? (although I would guess that any firm white flesh fish would work). Thks for sharing – and beautiful photos!

    Eliz xo

    • Robin E. H. Ove says:

      Very pleased to hear from you Eliz! I’m sure you could use halibut or other firm white fish as you suggest. Rockfish, Rockcod is quite abundant off the coast of California with many varieties. Love it!

  5. Robin E. H. Ove says:

    I am using WordPress with a Pagelines theme.

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