Soybeans with tofu and Tianjin preserved vegetable (天津冬菜毛豆)

This recipe is for green soy beans (毛豆, máo dòu), seasoned with Tianjin preserved vegetable (天津冬菜, Tiānjīn dōngcài) and other savory spices. You can use fresh or frozen soybeans. If you use fresh ones, shell them and then and boil until until tender, perhaps five minutes; prepare frozen soybeans according package instructions.

Soybeans with tofu and Tianjin preserved vegetable (天津冬菜毛豆)

Tianjin preserved vegetable is cabbage that has been cut up and well salted so that it will last forever. It contributes a rich umami flavor to any dish.

Tianjin Preserved vegetable

Tianjin Preserved vegetable. And might I add, what an insanely bad photograph! The guy with the camera is truly a talentless hack. Just look at how he tried at all costs to capture the specular highlights on the knife, to the extent of forgetting to capture enough DOF so that both the label and the food are in focus. And don’t even get me started on the obviously incorrect white balance. Yeeesh.

In addition to the preserved cabbage, you’ll use Sichuan peppercorns for the fragrant spicy-citrus flavor they impart.

Sichuan peppercorns

Sichuan peppercorns

And of course a small handful of dried red chiles for some heat.

Dried red chiles

Dried red chiles

Black bean garlic sauce adds even more richness. It’s easy enough to make from scratch (as I did here), but tonight I used a prepared sauce.

2014-1-18T Soybeans_BBGSauce

Everything comes together fairly quickly, making this another “simple” recipe, which as always on this blog means that the whole thing is finished in the time that it takes to cook your rice.


  1. 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns and 5-10 dried red chiles (snapped in half, with  loose seeds discarded)
  2. 1 Tbsp Tianjin preserved vegetable  (天津冬菜, Tiānjīn dōngcài), sliced into slivers, and 1 Tbsp black bean garlic sauce
  3. 10 oz prepared soybeans (see above) and 3/4 cup diced extra-firm tofu
  4. 1 tsp sesame oil


  • Heat your wok on medium heat until hot but not smoking. Then add 1 Tbsp peanut oil and swirl it around. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and the chiles (#1), and stir until fragrant. Don’t let the spices brown.
  • Add the Tianjin preserved vegetable and the black bean garlic sauce (#2), and stir for a few moments until everything is mixed and heated through.
  • Add the soybeans and the tofu (#3) and stir gently until heated and mixed with the rest of the ingredients, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Drizzle with the sesame oil (#4) and stir. Serve with rice and contrasting dishes.

VARIATIONS: The soybeans and the tofu taste excellent and they offer pleasantly contrasting textures, so everything else is really negotiable. You could use spicy bean paste instead of the black bean garlic sauce, or for that matter, oyster sauce or even dark soy sauce (with a little potato flour to thicken it up). Or no sauce at all. To vary the texture, add peanuts or cashews.

The essential Chinese pantry is here.


This entry was posted in Recipes, Soybeans, Stir-fry, Tofu, Vegan, Vegetables. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s