Bean day

[Recipe 1] BLACK BEAN, COCONUT and FISH STEW transforms into

You know those ladies who hand out tiny samples of food at supermarkets? I used to do that! It was one of my weirdest casual jobs as a teenager. You name it, I have offered it up on a plastic tray. Everything from crisps at Woolworths to cans of Diet Coke at a golf tournament. I also dressed up as Santa once and handed out bags of mixed lollies to kiddies in cars at a petrol station. It was a hoot. I caused a semi-trailer to do a 6-point turn on High Street in Prahran. He had driven past bellowing ‘Hey Santa, you look like a bloody girl’. When I screamed ‘I AM a girl!’, he came back to apologise. I gave him a bag of lollies.
I was reminded of this job when I visited El Cielo a few weeks ago. Look at their fabulous sauce and salsa samples! I had to hold my boys back, reminding them it wasn’t a buffet.
El Cielo is tricky to find, as it’s hidden in the back streets of Port Melbourne amongst the factories; but it’s worth the drive. They bake blue and white corn tortillas (gluten-free) on-site; and sell mole paste, masa (corn dough), agave nectar, salsas, hot sauces, black beans and all manner of chillies. They deliver Australia-wide too. I promise this isn’t a sponsored post. I just love their stuff! I armed myself with a load of fresh tortillas, black beans and habenero sauce and whipped up two new recipes.
God, I love black beans. I’ve made this chorizo and black bean stew more times than I can remember and decided to shake things up a bit with some crazy experimenting. The result was this Black bean, coconut and fish stew and it’s fantastic, even if I do say so myself. Seriously, you must make it! Don’t be spooked by the ingredient list – it’s a cinch to make.
It’s lovely served up with rice and a good squeeze of lime juice; and it’s equally delicious served up again later in the week, as Baked black bean and fish flautas. Flautas (Spanish for ‘flutes’) are little tortillas rolled around a filling. They’re traditionally deep-fried, but are just as fabulous baked in the oven with a sprinkle of cheese on top. My boys adore them. El Cielo’s tortillas are authentically small (14cm/5½”), perfect for kids and just the right size for flautas. Fantástico!

El CieloBlack bean, pumpkin and fish stew[Recipe 1] Black bean, coconut and fish stew

Ingredients (serves 4 for 4 meals – recipe can be halved):
1 kilo (2 lb) dried black beans (turtle beans), soaked overnight
8–10 coriander (cilantro) roots, stripped of the thin ‘hairs’ finely chopped (reserve leaves)
5cm (2”) piece ginger, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
4 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
3 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red (purple/Spanish) onions, finely chopped
2 cups chicken stock, home-made or store-bought
2⅔ cups (700ml) tomato passata (tomato puree)
400g (14 oz) can coconut milk
½ teaspoon chilli powder (or more, to taste*)
500g (1 lb) firm-fleshed white fish fillets, such as swordfish or mahi mahi, chopped
350g (¾ lb) peeled butternut pumpkin (butternut squash), chopped into very small cubes
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups fresh coriander (cilantro), plus extra to serve
Lime wedges, to serve
Steamed rice, to serve
Hot sauce, to serve*

Drain soaked black beans and place into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 10 cups of water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 50–60 minutes, covered, or until tender (they may need less time if they’re quite fresh). Drain again.
Process coriander roots, ginger, garlic cloves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and desiccated coconut until a rough paste forms. Don’t blend it completely smooth – chunky is good!
Heat oil in a heavy-based large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onion and fry for 3 minutes, until just softened. Add spice paste and fry for a further 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add stock to the pan and stir well. Add drained beans, passata, coconut milk and chilli powder. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 45–50 minutes. Stir frequently as beans are notorious pot-stickers (see my note about using a heat diffuser, below this recipe).
Add fish and pumpkin and simmer, covered, for a further 15 minutes until fish is cooked through and pumpkin is tender.
Season with salt and add coriander leaves. Stir well.
Divide the Black bean, coconut and fish stew into four x 1 kilo (2 lb) portions (see storage tips below).
♦ Reserve 1 portion (1 kilo/2 lb, about 3½ cups) Black bean, coconut and fish stew for the Baked black bean and fish flautas, and 1 portion for tonight’s dinner. The other two portions can be frozen or shared! See notes below.
Divide the steamed rice amongst four deep serving bowls. Ladle stew over the rice, and serve scattered with coriander; with lime wedges for squeezing.

  • The black bean stew recipe will yield four serves of about 1 kilo (2 lb) each (1 kilo will serve four). I love making a massive vat of stew, as it freezes so well. It’s also lovely to share with your neighbours, new parents or friends! It’s easy to halve the ingredients though, if you’d prefer to make a smaller batch.
  • Black bean, coconut and fish stew can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. If you’ve used fresh fish (not frozen) the stew can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • When freezing stews and soups that contain fish, it’s important to use the freshest fish you can find. Fresh seafood smells like the sea! If you detect an overly ‘fishy’ smell, don’t buy it. You’ll find useful information here. Local fish, in season, is your best choice. This website is an amazing resource for checking the sustainability of Australian fish species.
  • *You can dial up the chilli for more heat. I find one teaspoon of chilli powder is just the right amount for kids though, and a good splash of hot sauce will liven up adults’ serves.
  • To prevent beans, thick soups and sauces sticking to the bottom of pots, a heat-diffuser ring is an excellent investment. There are lots of different ones available on Amazon.
  • Black beans (turtle beans) are available from health food stores, markets, Oasis, specialty food stores and online from El Cielo. Black beans contain more than three times the omega 3-fatty acids than other beans. They’re also a rich source of anti-oxidant flavonoids due to their black skin.
  • When using fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, freeze the white roots. They’re great for adding to home-made stock, or pounding into a paste for flavouring curries and stews such as this one. Strip the tiny ‘hairy’ roots off before using.

Baked black bean and fish flautas

[Recipe 2] Baked black bean and fish flautas

Ingredients (serves 4):
16 small (14cm/5½“) tortillas

♦ 1 portion (1 kilo/2 lb, about 3½ cups) reserved Black bean, coconut and fish stew

Olive oil for brushing
75g (2¾ oz) grated tasty cheddar cheese (or whatever you have in the fridge – see below)
Lime wedges, to serve
Chopped avocado, to serve
Hot sauce, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Warm tortillas for 10 seconds each side in a dry frying pan to soften them up.
♦ Top each with about 3 tablespoons of reserved black bean and fish stew. Don’t over-stuff them! Roll up to enclose.
Place onto a lightly-oiled baking dish, seam side down. Lightly brush the tops with olive oil. Scatter with cheese and bake for 15–18 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.
Serve immediately, with lime wedges, chopped avocado and hot sauce.

  • If you can’t find small tortillas, use halved large tortillas.
  • You can use any cheese for the topping including mozarella, pecorino or manchego.

25 thoughts on “Bean day

  1. I made your 2 tasty recipes a while ago & loved it as much as you did, I am sure of it! My hubby Peter loved it so much too! 🙂 xxx Divine & fabulous recipes, as always! x

  2. Hey Sas
    Stumbled acrosssome black turtle beans in a nut shop round the corner from work. So excited as I now have the key ingredient for this dish without having to search!


  3. I did make your fish coconut stew today and it was as delicious as you said it would be.
    A glass of white wine to go with it- yum, yum.
    I have never heard of flautas – maybe you made it up, as I could not find this word in the dictionary. It sounds quite exotic.

    • Fantastic! So pleased you made the stew and liked it. Ha! I didn’t make up ‘flauta’. It’s such a great word isn’t it. It’s Spanish for ‘flute’. As you’ll see here, a flauta is ‘a corn tortilla rolled around a filling, such as beef, chicken, or cheese, into a thin cylinder and sometimes deep-fried’. They’re basically extra-skinny filled tortillas!

    • Thanks Squishy! Flautas are great, and they’re the quickest dinner on earth if the black bean filling is ready-made in the freezer. My boys sat down to watch an episode of Skippy a few nights ago, and by the time the end credits were rolling, dinner was ready!

  4. I know this will sound like a crazy question but can I made the soup with chicken to replace the fish? I have all the ingredients except for the fish! Just reading the recipe I know it will be amazing but I don’t have the time to go shopping for fish this week.
    P.S. loved the story about your teenage Santa job. For a guy who was so mean at first to come back and apologize! there is always a spark of goodness in everyone 🙂

    • Chicken would be a lovely replacement for the fish Sawsan! I used swordfish the last time I made this, which is quite a firm, ‘meaty’ fish – in fact I’d say it’s pretty similar to chicken in texture. I would use thigh meat, chopped into quite small pieces.

  5. I’m sure you made a very pretty santa 😛 I did in store demonstrating for a while. It’s interesting work that’s for sure! I love turtle beans. I only really have them when I get my burrito from beach burrito but keep meaning to track them down at the supermarket.

    • Why thank you Cass. I was indeed a lovely Santa, except for all those damn pillows I had to tuck under my top and down my pants. Mind you, the padding was a good built-in bumper bar while I was running and weaving around all those cars (and a semi-trailer).

  6. Oh yum! I adore black beans, particularly in tortilla wraps (I’ve never heard of a flauta, they look delicious though!). Thanks for these two recipes; I actually just bought a can of black beans from the market yesterday (I haven’t been able to find dried black beans locally) so I know what I’ll be using them for! Thanks Saskia xx

    • Hi Norma. Fish and butternut are great together – it’s a tasty combo for patties too, instead of the usual potato/tuna mix. Coriander roots are beautiful aren’t they – I keep them in the freezer, right at the front, with all the other odds and ends I would otherwise forget about (blobs of tomato paste, parsley stalks, tiny containers of chopped ginger etc etc).

  7. Fabulous Sas – you’re an inspiration.
    How do you find these places?? I’ll definitely be hunting this place down when i’m next in the area and giving your recipe a go,,,,,

    • Ace Rosa. I forgot to mention their corn chips. Fabulous! My boys love them for a play lunch treat, with hummus or guacamole. Next time I visit I’m grabbing a bottle of their Cajeta Coronado too (dulce de leche made with goat’s milk) – it looks so good. If you buy a bottle, let me know what it’s like!
      Oh, my friend Paul gave me the tip about El Cielo. I’d been buying their tortillas (they’re stocked in a few places around Melbourne); without realising you could buy them direct from the source!

  8. I love the look of both these recipes and I share your love of black beans. Do you know where you can get them? I have tried so many places and can’t locate them. Are dried the way to go?

    • Cheers Michaela. You can get black beans at El Cielo (see post). They deliver Australia-wide. They’re often available at health food stores too (mine will order them in for me if I ask nicely). Good luck!

      • Yes, I saw that but it’s a long drive from where I live, but delivery could be an option. I do have a health food shop nearby so I’ll try that. Thanks for the tips!

I love a chat!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s