Pipis in Black Bean Sauce


Sydney Seafood School

by Sydney Seafood School

   Back to Blog

The rich flavour of the pipi meat marries beautifully with the black bean sauce and chilli in this classic pipi recipe. The trick to keeping the pipis juicy and tender is to remove each shell from the pan as soon as it opens – so they don’t overcook and become tough and dry.

Serves: 6 as an entrée




  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons pounded yellow rock sugar (see notes)
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 5cm piece ginger, juiced (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 small red onion, cut into eighths
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons salted black beans, washed
  • 2 tablespoons shao xing (see notes)
  • 1.5kg pipis, purged (see notes)
  • Steamed jasmine rice, to serve



Step 1
Combine the water, soy sauce, rock sugar, sesame oil and ginger juice and set aside.

Step 2

Heat a wok until hot, add peanut oil and heat until very hot. Add the onion and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, until it starts to colour. Add the garlic, chilli and black beans and stir to combine. Add the shao xing and cook, stirring, for a further 30 seconds or so. Add the stock mixture and pipis and toss well to combine. Reduce heat and cover.

Step 3

Cook for 1-2 minutes until pipis start to open. Uncover and, using a slotted spoon, remove pipis as soon as they open, placing them on a plate. When all pipis are removed, boil sauce vigorously until it thickens slightly.

Step 4

Return pipis to sauce, stir well and serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.

You can substitute castor sugar for the yellow rock sugar (which is available in Asian food stores). To juice ginger, grate it finely then squeeze the juice from it. Shao xing is Chinese cooking wine, available from Asian grocery stores, if it is unavailable substitute dry sherry. Pipis are usually sold ‘purged’ to remove sand and grit, however it’s still a good idea to place them in a large bowl of cool salted water and sea salt (30g salt per litre water) for several hours or overnight, at room temperature, to get rid of any remaining sand (if you refrigerate them they’ll close up and won’t ‘spit out’ the sand).

Alternative species:
Black mussel, surf clam, Flame cockle, vongole.

Recipe supplied by Sydney Seafood School.

Visit for more great seafood recipes and cooking tips, answers to frequently asked seafood questions and the full program of Sydney Seafood School cooking classes.


Login with Email

Create a New Account


Experience the freshness of the fish markets at home

Find out if we deliver to your door.

Get Started