Where I live, in the Pacific Northwest, seafood is often prepared with Asian ingredients. In keeping with this popular trend, this recipe matches fresh salmon with the strong, vibrant flavors of ginger, lime, sesame and soy sauce. The true highlight of the dish, however, comes from Chinese fermented black beans. Fermented black beans are salty and packed with flavor. You can find them in any Asian market. Although exotic and perhaps intimidating for first-timers, these beans really just need a quick soak before they are ready to be used in virtually anything from vegetable stir-fries to noodle dishes. In this dish, the salmon is first seasoned with aromatic Chinese 5 spice powder and then seared over high heat until it achieves a nice, brown crust. A small drizzle of the black bean vinaigrette is all that is needed to turn this into an impressive treat.
Potstickers or Egg Rolls
Chinese Black Bean Salmon
Steamed Rice
Stir-Fried Snow Peas, Zucchini, Shiitake Mushrooms and Red Bell Pepper


1-1/2 tablespoons fermented black beans
4 salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each), pin bones removed
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon, plus 1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chinese 5 spice powder
1-1/2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons mellow flavored olive oil or vegetable oil

Cooking Instructions

Place the fermented black beans in a small bowl and add warm water to cover. Let soak for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they are soft and pliable.

While the black beans are soaking, prepare the salmon. Season the salmon generously with salt and pepper, rub with 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, and sprinkle with the 5 spice powder. Rub the salmon lightly to really get the flavor of the spices into it. Set the salmon aside in the refrigerator until needed.

To make the vinaigrette, drain and rinse the black beans. Lay the beans out on paper towels to dry thoroughly. When dry, chop the beans coarsely and place in a small bowl. Add the shallots, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, lime juice, and remaining tablespoon of sesame oil. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of the olive or vegetable oil until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When hot, add the salmon pieces, skin side up. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until nicely browned. Turn the fish over and cook until the salmon is done (about 5 to 8 minutes longer depending on the thickness of the pieces. The salmon should be just a little bit pink in the center). Transfer the fish to plates and drizzle with a small amount of the vinaigrette making sure to get some of the delicious black beans in every serving. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings



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This recipe makes more vinaigrette than is needed (it is really hard to cut the recipe in half). Try serving the leftover vinaigrette on stir-fried or steamed vegetables, as a dressing for a green salad, tossed with cooked soba noodles, or with seared shrimp.

Here are some tips to keep salmon from sticking to the pan: Make sure the salmon is not too wet when you put it in the pan, use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or heavy pan (or use a nonstick pan if you really want to be safe), make sure that the pan is thoroughly heated before adding the salmon to it, and make sure that the pan is completely coated in the oil before adding the salmon so that no piece of salmon is directly touching a dry area of the pan.

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