Recipes

Braised Winter Squash with Fermented Black Beans

The sweetness of this tender vegetable marries beautifully with savory, complex seasonings in Hannah Che’s fuss-free recipe.

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE VEGAN CHINESE KITCHEN BY HANNAH CHE COPYRIGHT © 2022. PHOTOGRAPHS BY HANNAH CHE. PUBLISHED BY CLARKSON POTTER, A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, LLC.

By Hannah Che


Published on November 10, 2022

This recipe is brought to you by SAVEUR Cookbook Club, our passionate community of food-loving readers from around the globe celebrating our favorite authors and recipes. Join us as we cook through a new book every two months, and share your food pics and vids on social media with the hashtags #SAVEURCookbookClub and #EatTheWorld.

Similar to red-braising (紅燒 hóngshāo)—the Shanghainese technique of slowly cooking in a flavorful concoction of ingredients like soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar—smother-braising (燜 mèn) is simpler and shorter and often relies on more delicate, lighter-colored condiments. In this braised winter squash recipe, the technique allows the vegetable’s beautiful orange hue to shine through.

In this dish, from cookbook author Hannah Che, winter squash’s natural sweetness is complemented by salty, savory fermented black beans. The squash cooks until buttery and tender, on the verge of falling apart. Che suggests seeking out kabocha squash, which has a velvety, starchy softness and flavor reminiscent of roasted chestnut, but any firm-fleshed winter squash, like red kuri, butternut, or Hubbard, will also work.

Adapted with permission from The Vegan Chinese Kitchen by Hannah Che © 2022. Photographs by Hannah Che. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Ingredients

  • One 1-lb. winter squash
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4–5 dried Tianjin or Sichuan chiles, snipped into ½-inch pieces and seeds shaken out
  • 1 Tbsp. fermented black beans, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup unsalted vegetable stock of any kind, or water
  • 1 tsp. sugar, plus more as needed
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • Pinch freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced

Instructions

Step 1

Peel and core the squash and cut it into 1½-inch wedges.  Cut each wedges into ½- by 1½-inch pieces.

Step 2

Heat a wok over high heat, then add the vegetable oil, swirling to coat the inside surface. Add the dried chiles and stir-fry just until they begin to darken in color, about 10 seconds. Add the fermented black beans and garlic and let them sizzle until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and stir to coat in the fragrant oil, then pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add the sugar and salt, then cover, and turn the heat down to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the squash has absorbed most of the liquid and is tender enough to pierce with a chopstick, 5–7 minutes.

Step 3

Uncover the wok and adjust the seasoning to taste with more sugar and salt. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and a white pepper, scatter the sliced scallions on top, and serve.

Want More Saveur?

Get our favorite recipes, stories, and more delivered to your inbox.