Steamed Salmon in Black Bean Sauce

The steamed salmon is cooked until tender and moist and the asparagus perfectly done. The dark black bean sauce complements both ingredients perfectly and turns these simple ingredients into a feast. The dish takes no time to set up and cook. And you’ll get a nutritious and delicious one-pan dinner in 30 minutes. {Gluten-Free adaptable}

Making steamed salmon with black bean sauce in a dutch oven

This is a modern twist on an Asian classic – it’s surprising just how gorgeously the dish turned out when I paired Chinese black bean sauce with salmon fillets.

Traditionally, a white fish fillet is used with black bean sauce in a steamer, then drizzled with aromatic infused hot oil. For an example, see the recipe I introduced in this post. However, I stumbled upon the parchment method in a beautiful salmon recipe on What’s Gaby Cooking. I love this approach because it doesn’t require a steamer. You can simply make the steamed fish in your dutch oven, lining it with parchment paper.

I tried the method with these beautiful salmon fillets I got from Copper River Salmon. The result blew my mind! The fish was cooked until tender and moist and the asparagus perfectly done. Because salmon has a much richer taste than most kinds of white fish, I found that you don’t even need to drizzle the hot aromatics over the fish once you’re done steaming. The dark black bean sauce complements both ingredients perfectly and turns these simple ingredients into a feast.

Steamed salmon in black bean sauce

Cooking notes

1. Steam without a steamer

Chinese steamed fish usually requires a steamer.  And you usually need to place the fish and sauce on a plate that fits into your steamer. The problem is, most steamers are small and don’t hold many ingredients. So you have to cook in batches if you’re cooking for more people or if you’re doing meal-prep.

This recipe uses parchment paper to line a large dutch oven to mimic a steamer. The parchment paper acts as a steamer rack, and you can place the food directly onto it.

The method is super easy to set up, and it allows you to cook a larger batch of food at one time.

2. No hot oil required

Traditional Chinese steamed fish uses an aromatic infused hot oil to add aroma to the steamed fish. Although I found it a bit complicated for a day-to-day dinner. That’s why I picked salmon instead of the white fish used in a traditional recipe. The salmon has a rich flavor that compliments the sauce. I simply mixed some olive oil and chopped ginger and garlic into the black bean paste. The result was perfect.

Making steamed salmon with black bean sauce close-up

3. What is fermented black beans

Fermented black beans, or Dou Chi, are a very salty ingredient made from cooked black soybeans fermented in heavily salinated water. A process that softens the bean and dries it out slightly. As a result, it has a deep umami flavor like soy sauce but with an even stronger, fermented fragrance. It’s the principal ingredient in fermented bean sauce (豆豉酱dòu chǐ jiàng), which combines other condiments to complement the savoriness of the bean itself.

Thanks to the almighty Amazon, you can even purchase fermented black beans online without a trip to the grocery store. However, if there is an Asian market nearby, I highly recommend you get your ingredients there because it will be way cheaper. These black beans will stay good in your fridge forever, so you can store them even if you don’t plan to use them all immediately.

4. Easy workflow

To prepare the ingredients:

  • Line your dutch oven with a large piece of parchment paper. Make sure you have extra paper around the edge so you can wrap up the fish later.
  • Place a layer of onion on the bottom. It adds great depth to the sauce, tastes delicious once cooked, and prevents the fish from scorching on the bottom.
  • Spoon the black bean sauce over the salmon.
  • Arrange the asparagus between the salmon fillets. If your pan is not large enough, it’s OK to place the asparagus on top of the fillets. Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle chopped green onions on top.

Cooking steamed salmon in a dutch oven

To steam the fish:

  • Add water between the dutch oven and the parchment paper. Note, try to wrap the paper so the water won’t spill onto the fish and dilute the sauce. Adding water is crucial, because the steam it creates will cook the fish and protect the ingredients from scorching the bottom of the pot.
  • Then loosely pinch the paper together so it forms a pocket to wrap the ingredients.
  • Steam until the salmon is just cooked

Steam salmon in parchment paper

5. Use pre-made sauce (Optional)

If you made my black bean sauce in the past, you can skip the sauce-making step and further reduce the prep time for the dish.

However, if you’re using store-bought bottled black bean sauce, I recommend you replace the fermented black beans with that sauce, and use the rest of the sauce ingredients included in the recipe below. Store-bought sauce is usually less fragrant, so you will need the extra aromatics to boost the flavor.

This steamed salmon is so simple to make and the result is stunning. I guarantee you’ll have a dinner that blows your guests away. Or you can simply prepare it on a weeknight and use the leftovers for meal-prep.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Steamed salmon in black bean sauce served with steamed rice

More delicious salmon recipes

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

Steamed Salmon in Black Bean Sauce - The steamed salmon is cooked until tender and moist and the asparagus perfectly done. The dark black bean sauce complements both ingredients perfectly and turns these simple ingredients into a feast. The dish takes no time to set up and cook. And you’ll get a nutritious and delicious one-pan dinner in 30 minutes. {Gluten-Free adaptable}

Steamed Salmon in Black Bean Sauce

The steamed salmon is cooked until tender and moist and the asparagus perfectly done. The dark black bean sauce complements both ingredients perfectly and turns these simple ingredients into a feast. The dish takes no time to set up and cook. And you’ll get a nutritious and delicious one-pan dinner in 30 minutes. {Gluten-Free adaptable}
To make the dish gluten-free, use dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine, and use a gluten-free oyster sauce or homemade oyster sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Meal prep
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 362kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu

Ingredients

  • 4 salmon fillets (about 1 1/2lbs / 680g)
  • 1 yellow onion , sliced
  • 1/2 pound (225 g) asparagus , tough ends removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 green onion , chopped

Sauce (*Footnote 1)

Instructions

  • To mix the sauce, combine the fermented black beans with the Shaoxing wine in a bowl. Let it sit while you prepare the other ingredients so the black beans will soften, 5 minutes or so. Once the fermented black beans turn soft, smash them with the back of a spoon to thicken the paste. It’s fine if you cannot smash the beans evenly and completely. Once done, add the rest of the sauce ingredients and mix well.
  • Line a large dutch oven or heavy-duty pot with parchment paper and make sure you have about 8” (20cof paper poking out of the pot, so you can wrap up the ingredients later.
  • Spread the onion onto the bottom of the lined dutch oven. Place the fish on top of the onion, skin-side-down. Arrange the asparagus between the salmon fillets. Pour the black bean sauce over the salmon. Drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle the green onion over the salmon and asparagus.
  • Fold the paper over to cover the fish and crimp the edges loosely together so it forms a pocket to hold all the ingredients. Add 1/2 cup water outside of the parchment paper, and make sure the water doesn’t enter the paper pocket and dilute the sauce.
  • Cover the dutch oven with the lid. Cook over medium-high heat until the water boils, 5 minutes or so. Do not uncover the lid during the process. You should hear the water bubble when it starts to boil. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low. Continue to cook for another 6-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish and the doneness you’re looking for. After 6 minutes, uncover the pot and unfold the parchment paper using a pair of tongs (be careful of the hot steam coming out of the pot). Test the doneness of the salmon by inserting a fork into the thickest part of the fillet. It should flake easily and the color should be pale pink throughout. If the salmon is mostly cooked but still has spots of darker pink, cover the pot again, remove it from the stove, and let sit for 3 to 4 minutes. If the salmon doesn’t flake easily, return it to cook on the stove for longer until it’s done.
  • Once the salmon is cooked, remove the pot from the stove immediately and uncover the pot. Let the steam out for a minute, remove the lid, and carefully open the paper. Transfer the salmon with the onions and asparagus onto a serving plate. Transfer the remaining sauce as much as possible onto the salmon using a spoon.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice as a main dish.

Notes

  1. If you have some of my homemade black bean sauce recipe on hand, you can use it in this recipe directly and skip making the sauce. Simply place about 2 tablespoons of sauce over each salmon fillet and follow the rest of the recipe instructions for cooking.

Nutrition

Serving: 4g | Calories: 362kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 35.4g | Fat: 17.9g | Saturated Fat: 2.6g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 409mg | Potassium: 860mg | Fiber: 2.4g | Sugar: 10.3g | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 3mg

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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3 thoughts on “Steamed Salmon in Black Bean Sauce

  1. Emily

    Oh my!! This looks so delicious! Quick question: is the fermented black bean sauce naturally gluten free? I know many asian ingredients are not, and I am always looking for gluten free versions.

    Reply
  2. Margaret Sheive

    I made this for dinner the other night and it really did come together very qiuckly. The results were stunningly flavorful. I used green beans instead of aspargus and they still were done when the salmon was done, about 12 min total cooking time. Even my husnad ate it for lunch the next day too. These will be go-to variations on salmon dinner and steamer method from now on, thank you so much for your creativity as always. We LOVE your recipes!

    Reply