Think crispy duck, Chinese pancakes and thinly sliced cucumber and spring onions. Now you are getting hungry aren’t you?

If anybody says they can knock this together in no time then they are lying. Complete liars. It takes a long time together with more than a little love. Living in rural Andalucía it is not easy to come across black bean and garlic paste, sesame paste or Sriracha so first up you have to make your own.

Let’s make the easy one first – black bean and garlic paste and this will make a jar full that’ll keep at the back of your fridge for a very long time if kept in an airtight jar.

100ml fermented black beans*, chopped
Several garlic cloves, finely grated
A big knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Bunch spring onions roughly chopped
One tablespoon Sambal Oelek**
80ml rice wine or dry sherry
One tablespoon sea salt
One teaspoon freshly crushed black peppercorns
Oil of choice

Heat a wok, korai or sauté pan over high heat. Add a big glug of oil then swirl to coat the pan. Add the beans, garlic, ginger and onions then stir-fry for a couple of minutes until things start to soften.

Add the sambal and wine; reduce the heat and cook until reduced by 75%.

Remove from the heat and season. When cool blend to a purée adding a little more oil.

Next up is the sesame paste but you can cheat here if you have tahini paste and what’s the difference I hear you say? Well, Tahini is made with hulled sesame seeds and sesame paste is made with the entire seed. Tahini is typical Middle Eastern whereas sesame paste is Asian. And if you want to make your own sesame paste it is quite simple. Dry roast sesame seeds, add them to a blender then blitz pouring in olive oil as you do so. You’ll need a fair amount of oil.

Sriracha is simply a chilli sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar; garlic, sugar, and salt. So make your own or use any hot sauce.

* You may have to resort to using a can black beans in water – however, if you can find fermented then please let me know.
**unless you are really dedicated don’t bother making this use chilli paste or any hot sauce.

Now for the main feature:


6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoon black bean and garlic paste
3 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoon runny honey
4 teaspoons rice vinegar or dry sherry
½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder***
½ teaspoon sesame paste
¼ teaspoon Sriracha

Combine in a small sauce pan.
Bring to a boil over high-ish heat, reduce heat and simmer until sauce
thickens, that’ll be 5 minutes or so, stir frequently.

Allow to cool then store in an airtight jar.

*** You can make this easily too. Grind equal measures of cinnamon, cloves, toasted fennel seeds, star anise, toasted Szechuan peppercorns.

It is a lot of faffing around isn’t it? And we haven’t given any thought to 5 hours’ worth of roasting duck, making Chinese pancakes and slicing cucumber and spring onions into matchsticks.