Brussels Sprouts with Black Bean Garlic Sauce

Please welcome guest author Garrett McCord of Vanilla Garlic as he shares one of his favorite quick and easy brussels sprouts recipes. ~Elise

“It’s funky. Abrasive. It’s not afraid to get in your face and call your mama ugly.”

That’s how black bean garlic sauce was first described to me. I was one of the RA’s in the dorms way-back-when in college and some of my freshmen residents were teaching me how to use a wok. One of them tossed the sauce in with some cooked chicken and greens and as the steam and smoke rose the air became salty and pungent. The aroma was so thick you could suck it in and roll it around on your tongue. A flip of the wok and suddenly lunch was served. A quick taste and I could see that the sauce was an ingredient that demanded your attention and could only be tamed by other brassy ingredients.

“Wow, this is awesome. It’s so intense!” I blurted before reaching for another forkful.

She smiled and said, “Yeah, it’s not a condiment for the weak.”

Brussels sprouts are one such brassy ingredient that’s able to really compliment the black bean garlic sauce. These tiny cabbages have a delightfully bitter flavor that mellow and sweeten when seared. A dash of chili pepper flakes give the whole dish an extra bit of bite. This is a dish full of flavor that’s simple, fast to prepare side, and works great as a meal on its own.

Brussels Sprouts with Black Bean Garlic Sauce Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

You can find black bean garlic sauce in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores. I use the Lee Kum Kee brand and love it. If you're up to it some chopped, cooked bacon is equally tasty when added to this dish. Note that the sauce is pretty salty, so no additional salt is needed.

Ingredients

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  • 2 tablespoons of olive, grapeseed, or safflower oil
  • dash of chili pepper flakes
  • 25 brussels sprouts
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of black bean garlic sauce
  • ground black pepper

Method

1 Wash the brussels sprouts well. Trim the stems and discard any of the loose leaves. Quarter them lengthwise.

2 Place the oil and chili flakes into a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add the brussels sprouts to the pan and cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the sprouts begin to brown a bit. They may absorb all the oil, if they do just add another 1/2 tablespoon of oil.

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3 Add the black bean garlic sauce and stir until all the brussels sprouts are well coated. Add a pinch of ground black pepper (the sauce is already salty so you probably won't need any salt). Cook for about 30 more seconds. Take off heat and serve immediately.

23 Comments

  1. Jen

    Are there other brands of black bean garlic sauce that you could also recommend? I’ve tried Lee Kum Kee’s before and I actually thought it was way too salty. I tried cutting it with chicken broth, but then the flavors ended up unbalanced and bland. Goldilocks, I know.

    I can’t recall any others I would suggest. Most BBG sauces are salty to begin with. I would check out any local Asian markets near you and see what they have. ~Garrett

  2. Sarah

    Do you have any idea what this is called in Chinese, Vietnamese or Thai? I’m in SE Asia and I’ve been looking for black bean garlic sauce but cannot find it! It’s more of a Chinese thing right? But there are Chinese people here, so you’d think this sauce would be available . . .

    Not a clue. I was told back in college but I can’t recall. ~Garrett

  3. The Teacher Cooks

    I have never used black bean sauce. This really sounds good. We do not get a lot of fresh brussel sprouts here. Will frozen work as well? Thanks for the post. My foods class is going to learn yet another new vegetable dish. Thanks.

    Frozen should be fine, but not as tasty. ;) ~Garrett

  4. alice

    I love how you used black bean garlic sauce for brussels sprouts! I’ve had this dish with other types of Asian vegetables but I think using brussels sprouts is brilliant!

  5. Julie

    We made this recipe on Saturday with farmers market sprouts I’d been uninspired to use. It was delicious! And as an fyi, we happened upon this brand of black bean garlic sauce at World Market.

  6. peggy

    Hi Garrett. I was wondering if you had tried this with broccoli? I have the sauce in my house but no brussel sprouts, just broccoli. I think I will try it and see what happens!!!

  7. Glenn Scalia

    A recipe that requires a jar isn’t a recipe to me.
    It’s like telling me about a pasta dish with Maranara sauce and using Ragu.

    Glenn, you have to think of it this way: Do you make your own oyster sauce? Worcestershire? Mustard? Many recipes ask for an ingredient that comes premade in a jar. Even if you look at this recipe from a basic point of view then it can simply act as a great recipe that introduces you to a way to use what might be an unfamiliar ingredient. I highly suggest giving the recipe a try. =) ~Garrett

  8. donna

    Yum, I just did this. I did steam the sprouts for a while but far from “cooked.” I’m having a “Sunday Breakfast” on this Veterans’ Day Holiday: sprouts, 2 egg substitutes, toast and skim milk.

    Thanks again,

    Donna

  9. Anonymous

    The Brussel Sprouts were a great idea – I would never have thought to use them with black bean sauce. As for people wondering about what brand of sauce to use, you can make your own fairly easily. Here is my recipes:

    2 tbs Asian black beans (You can buy them on their own. WASH THEM FIRST or they will be unbearably salty), cut up small
    1 tbs garlic, minced
    1 tbs ginger, minced
    1/4 c soy sauce
    1 tbs sesame oil
    1/2 c green onions, cut into 1″ pieces
    hot sauce

    *mix soy sauce with sesame oil in a bowl and put aside for later.
    *Put wok on flame with oil at high heat – be careful not to let it smoke.
    *add beans, garlic, and ginger and stir in oil until it begins to brown
    *add your protein (or brussel sprouts) and sautee until almost cooked through (you may have to steam the brussel sprouts a little first)
    *add sugar (be careful! it’s just to give it a glaze, too much and you have a sweet mess) and green onions
    *add soy/sesame mixture and sautee until meat or brussels are cooked through.

    Enjoy!

    Wow! Thanks so much for the recipe. I may just use canned black beans myself if I try this for simplicity’s sake. ~Garrett

  10. Julia

    I really liked these, though I would steam the sprouts a bit before, they were a little hard yet still for my family. I added some onions and garlic to the oil pepper flakes part too… yum!

  11. Giselle

    This recipe sounds great! I’m sure the BBG sauce would be great with broccoli too. That’s a classic combination. To Sarah, who is looking for BBG sauce in SE Asia, my Chinese mother-in-law called the black beans “dow see” but I don’t know the word for the sauce. To Jen who thinks the BBG sauce is too salty: that’s just the way it is. If you eat rice alongside the brussels sprouts, it tempers the saltiness a little. For some diners, fermented black beans are an acquired taste, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love them eventually.

  12. Christina

    I know the point of this post was to use black bean sauce but, not having any (and on strict orders to not add anything more to our pantry/fridge that can’t be used up in a single recipe!!), I simply used this as inspiration to do brussel sprouts in a pan. I’d always eaten them steamed with a bit of butter — it’s delicious, and in fact the only steamed veggie I add butter to, but I wanted to try something different.

    So, here’s what I did, thanks to this post: 1tbsp olive oil in a cast iron pan, added the sprouts, salt, pepper and a *touch* of garlic powder and tossed them around so they’d be coated with oil (high heat). Then added just a bit of water to get some steam going (so that they wouldn’t char before cooking all the way through), but left them on for a bit after the water evaporated so that they’d colour on the outside… absolutely amazing, and extremely quick! So thank you, even though that’s not what this post was all about…

    And, when the moratorium on pantry/fridge additions ceases, I’ll be sure to try this out!! :)

  13. Marion Olson

    We love Brussels sprouts, and I’ve found a method that takes so little effort and attention that it can be done for elegant meals – Thanksgiving, for instance – while the turkey sits before carving. I think I got this from the Barefoot Contessa, but I’m not positive!

    Wash the sprouts and cut them in half, discarding the shriveled outer leaves as necessary. Toss them in a roasting pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and a few tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar. Make sure they’re coated with oil and vinegar and sprinkle them with coarse salt. Then roast them in a hot oven – about 400 degrees. Stir them around a few times, but let them get browned and the outer leaves get crispy. The high heat sweetens them, and the Balsamic is a perfect complement. The best I’ve ever had, and no work to speak of!

  14. 1gr8therapist

    This was delicious & super easy! I haven’t eaten Brussels sprouts in ages, but the description was enticing, so I gave it a whirl. Yum! Fresh & crunchy with just the right amount of tang…this is going into the regular rotation!

  15. Sonja Lovas

    We had company for Thanksgiving so in a pre-Turkey day dinner decided to try this. (love to experiment on guests!) Found the cooking time for fresh sprouts too short, searched 5 markets for the specific brand and settled on a black bean sauce by another company and just added garlic powder. We had to extended the cooking time until tender, but not mush. Guest loved it, took the recipe home with them! I just came from the store with more b. sprouts in my bag. Great flavors and we’ll be eating more little cabbages!

  16. Tina Wu

    Love love love this recipe! Who knew.. Brussels sprouts and black bean sauce! So easy, so quick, so yummy and maybe even healthy? Thanks a lot! I’ve already forwarded this recipe to black bean sauce lovers everywhere!

  17. Jen

    Wow! These look SO good! I am always looking for new ways to cook veggies and I am SO glad I read the comments! I almost passed it by since we have Celiacs in the house and commercial black bean sauce is not gluten free, but with the black bean recipe and the main recipe, now I CAN make it! THANK YOU!

  18. JM

    Thank you! This has become my go-to weeknight brussels sprouts preparation. I often sautee some cubed tofu first, take it out while the sprouts cook, and then add it back in before adding the sauce.
    Tonight I ate it with some leftover rice that had lemon juice on it, and it was a great combo, so I squeezed some extra lemon juice over the top (just a little). I think the hint of acid makes it even better!

  19. Shelenia

    I tried this recipe today because I just love brussels sprout. I don’t think I cooked it right because the brussels were kinda harder than I am use to having them, but the flavor was good. I had to add a little salt and hot sauce.

    These will be crunchier than most recipes using Brussels sprouts. If you want, feel free to give them a short steam to soften them up first. ~Garrett

  20. Andrea Kearney

    I tried this recipe using a bag of frozen brussels sprouts, defrosted and halved (not quartered). Easy, fast, wonderful tasting–I agree with you that these two strong flavors go well together. Will try using fresh sprouts next time I’ll have time to do the prep. Thanks for this great recipe!

  21. Patrick

    This recipe worked out very well as the black bean source complemented the slight bitterness of the brussels sprouts. I added five-spice marinated tofu and turned this into a main dish.

    Another twist to preparing brussels sprouts is to slice them up in a food processor before cooking. Doing so makes it easier to cook through the vegetable.

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