Steamed Pumpkin with salted black bean sauce

This dish is inspired by Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry’s Spice Temple cookbook which features the recipes from his well known Sydney restaurant. Spice Temple features spicy regional Chinese cooking inspired by Neil Perry’s travels and his love of Chinese food.

The combination of the sweet steamed pumpkin with the salty black bean sauce and slight spiciness added by the dried chillies makes for a great vegetarian side dish. It’s a perfect accompaniment to pork, like the Crispy Asian Pork Belly Salad, or would be nice with grilled lamb cutlets too.

The Chinese ingredients in this recipe are worth adding to your pantry if you don’t already have them as they are commonly used in other Chinese dishes, especially Sichuan dishes.


The black beans used here are not to be confused with normal canned black beans which are not fermented. Rather theses are salted and fermented black beans that form the basis of the salty seasoning used in Chinese dishes such as “beef in black bean sauce”. Don’t use readymade black bean sauce which is available in jars, but seek out the dried salted beans which come in plastic packets and found in Asian grocery shops.  That way you know exactly what’s going in your sauce and can control the saltiness and texture of the finished product.

Salted black beans, Shaoxiang wine and Chiankiang black vinegar

The Chinese ingredients in this recipe are worth adding to your pantry if you don’t already have them as they are commonly used in other Chinese dishes, especially Sichuan dishes and will keep for months.

Note: the difference in the cooking time below will be due to how long your pumpkin takes to steam to tender. Different types of pumpkin and stage of ripeness will affect the time.

Prep time: 5 minutes  Cooking time: 30-40 minutes

1/4 piece, about 500g peeled pumpkin chopped into medium size pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic and same amount of ginger crushed
3 tablespoons salted black beans
2-3 dried chillies
2-3 teaspoons white sugar (depends on tasting for salty sweet balance)
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon Chiankiang black vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
coriander or sliced Spring onions to garnish

Steam pumpkin for 25-35 minutes until tender. I use a steamer basket over a wok.

Steaming pumpkin

About 20 minutes into steaming, heat oil in seperate pan over medium heat.

Add dried chillies – broken in half, ginger and garlic paste and fry until just changing colour
Add black beans and stir fry gently until you can smell their “salty fragrance”
Add the sugar, Shaoxiang wine and simmer gently until the liquid has almost evaporated


Pour in stock, soy sauce, black vinegar and simmer for 8-10 minutes until black beans have plumped up, some of them may have burst a bit, and the sauce will be thickened. mix through sesame oil.

Put pumpkin in serving dish or platter, pour sauce over the top and scatter with coriander or spring onions.



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Born in South Africa, of Indian heritage. My family moved to Australia in the early 80's. I have a busy professional career as the CEO of a Healthcare Foundation based in Sydney. I love cooking, learning to cook, eating and travel. My blog is written in the spirit of sharing my foodie adventures.

5 thoughts on “Steamed Pumpkin with salted black bean sauce

  1. Glad you are enjoying my cooking adventures! We had beef and black bean sauce tonight for dinner using the salted black beans and it was much better than any Australian suburban Chinese restaurant! Will post recipe soon. Cheer Shanthini

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