Grey, grey, rain, wind, grey. I ventured to the allotment on Saturday to cover the dahlias with straw, and was rewarded with frozen numb fingers and a face full of drizzle. Not that it’s actually that cold, just dank and rainy and dark – so bugger to being outside. I dug the Christmas decorations out of the bathroom cupboard yesterday and our living room is now adorned with M&S’s finest woodland themed garlands, complete with cones, berries and nuts, plus I spray-painted dried artichoke heads with gold lacquer for a table display: this is “gardening” for the fair-weather gardener.
Yesterday I roasted a beautiful haunch of venison, meaning today we have A LOT of leftovers. I purposefully cooked it rare, so that the bits that we didn’t eat could still have a good purpose in another recipe – over-cooked venison haunch being tough as anything – and wondered if it would work in a stir fry with black beans. It’s more common to use beef, but venison has (in my view) a much stronger flavour so I thought that it should stand up to this kind of treatment. So I gave it a go…and it works!
I don’t have black bean sauce, but I DO have proper black beans – and they’re better. Black beans are fermented salted soya beans. You get them from the Chinese supermarket, they cost pence and last for ages. Gertie was very interested and came for a sniff.
All you do is take about a tablespoon of beans, drop them in a bowl, cover with warm water and leave to soak for ten minutes. You then fish them out and give them a rough chop, remembering to keep the soaking liquid.
Then get ready all your other stir-fry goodies. Alongside the venison I chose broccoli for freshness and colour, mushrooms for bulk and a handful of allotment chard for vitamins. Plus the ubiquitous Chinese triumvirate: garlic, ginger and spring onions.
You’ll also need a splash of Chinese rice wine (though sherry would also be fine) and soy sauce.
Then we’re good to go! Get the wok nice and hot, slosh in a flavourless oil, then stir-fry the garlic, ginger and spring onion for a few seconds before tipping in the broccoli and mushrooms. Give them a few minutes to soften before adding the chard, venison and black beans. Slosh in the bean soaking liquor, the rice wine, a good splash of soy and, if you wish, a drop of sesame oil. It will get steamy!
Bubble for a minute or two – you can thicken the sauce with a little slaked cornflour (that’s cornflour mixed with water) if you like – then serve it up with rice.
This is savoury, salty, quick and super easy. It would also work with prawns or beef, or tofu, or even just veg if you’re that way inclined. A good addition to the week-night repertoire.
Black bean and venison stir-fry
1 tablespoon black beans (beans, not sauce)
oil – groundnut, sunflower or vegetable
2 garlic cloves
Small chunk of ginger, grated or finely sliced
3 spring onions, sliced
handful of broccoli, sliced
handful of mushrooms, sliced
3 or 4 stems chard, sliced
left-over rare venison, sliced into strips (or use beef, prawns or tofu)
Chinese rice wine
1 tsp cornflour slaked with a drop of warm water
Soak the black beans in warm water whilst you prep the meat and veg. Fish the beans out of the liquid, roughly chop, and save the soaking liquor. Heat the wok, pour in a tablespoon or so of oil – it needs to be HOT! – then tip in the garlic and ginger. Stir for a few seconds then add the spring onions, broccoli and mushrooms. Fry for a few minutes – you want nice brown bits on the mushrooms, but don’t burn them. Add the chard, venison and black beans, stir to soften the chard. Slosh in the soaking liquid, rice wine and soy sauce – bubble for a few seconds. Add the cornflour and bubble to thicken. Serve straight away with rice.