Fish or Tofu in Chinese Black Bean Garlic Sauce (keto)

When I was living in Hawaii, my neighbors would spend the morning spearfishing, then make this in bamboo steamers for dinner. It was a special treat if they invited me over to share! This recipe has some tricky ingredients which you can find in Asian grocery stores or on

Fish or Tofu in Black Bean Garlic Sauce
4 servings // 304 calories, 12g fat, 43g protein, 6g net carbs

2 tablespoons Chinese black bean sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons dark soy sauce aka black soy sauce
1 teaspoon shrimp paste (or 2 T. fish sauce)
1 Serrano pepper, minced 
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon Swerve sweetener (or maple syrup, if you use it)
2 pounds sea bass, halibut, or codor tofu cubes

Garnish: 2-3 green onions, cut into 2” slivers

In a medium bowl, combine black-bean garlic sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, shrimp paste, Serrano pepper, garlic, ginger, and Swerve. Set aside.

Pour 1—3 “ water into bottom of a steamer (see “Steamers,” below). Place rack at least 1” above surface of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.

While water is coming to a boil, rinse the fish steaks, pat dry, and either leave as steaks or cut into cubes about 1/2” square. Add fish (or tofu cubes) to the marinade and mix to coat. Lay fish (or tofu) in a single layer in a 9— 10” heat-resistant glass pie pan. Spoon marinade over the fish or tofu.

Set the pie pan on a steamer rack. Cover and steam until fish’s center is barely opaque in thickest part (cut to test), 6 to 9 minutes, depending on thickness. Fish will continue to cook after you remove it from heat.

Turn off heat. Carefully lift pie pan from steamer, using hot mitts. If it’s difficult to remove, slip a wide spatula under pie pan to lift up, then grasp pie pan using tongs. To serve, sprinkle with green onions and serve with Asian-Style Cauliflower Rice.


The basic theory is to have a vessel to hold water, a rack to suspend the food over the water, and a lid to keep the steam in. Here are some possible combinations.

Wok and Rack: A 14- to 16-in. wok with a domed lid and steamer rack or a round cake rack. Set wok on a ring if it wobbles. Put rack right in wok; the sloped sides will hold the rack over the water. The wide opening makes it relatively easy to remove the cooked dish. 

Bamboo Steamer: Chinese stackable bamboo steamer baskets with lids. Set a 10- to 12-in. basket right in a 14- to 16-in. wok (make sure the bottom rim is just covered by water, as the baskets scorch easily; add boiling water as needed). 

Metal Steamer: Chinese steamer pan topped with stackable baskets and a domed lid. Choose a 10- to 12-in.-wide steamer for greatest versatility. Stackable baskets can cook several dishes at a time. 

Western-Style: A deep, wide pan or kettle with a lid, a round cake rack, and 3 empty cans or removable rim of a cheesecake pan. Set 2- to 3-in.-tall cans (both ends removed) into pan (or use the removable rim of a cheesecake pan). Top with a round cake rack and place pie pan on it; cover to steam.