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Black Bean and Vegetable Stir-fry

The secret of a quick stir-fry is proper preparation of all the ingredients first. It is important that the ingredients are added to the wok in the right order so that the larger or thicker pieces have a longer cooking time than the smaller pieces even if this is a difference of only a few millimetres and a few seconds!

Black bean sauce is made from salted black beans which have a very distinctive flavour that have been crushed and mixed with a variety of spices, such as ginger and chilli. It is quite a thick paste and readily available in jars, bottles and cans from large supermarkets and oriental food stores. Store in the refrigerator after opening.

ingredients

serves 4
8 spring onions
225 g (8 oz) button mushrooms
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 large carrots
60 ml (4 tbsp) sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
60 ml (4 tbsp) black bean sauce
90 ml (6 tbsp) warm water
225 g (8 oz) beansprouts
salt and ground black pepper

method

1. Thinly slice the spring onions and button mushrooms.

2. Cut both the peppers in half, remove the seeds and slice the flesh into thin strips.

3. Cut the carrots in half. Cut each half into thin strips lengthways. Stack the slices and cut through them to make very fine strips.

4. Heat the oil in a large preheated wok until very hot. Add the spring onions and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

5. Add the mushrooms, peppers and carrots. Stir-fry for 5 - 6 minutes over a high heat until the vegetables are just beginning to soften.

6. Mix the black bean sauce with the water. Add to the wok and cook for 3 - 4 minutes. Stir in the beansprouts and cook for 1 minute more, until all the vegetables are coated in the sauce. Season to taste, then serve at once.

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