Green China Restaurant

Chinese Black Bean Sauce

Introduction

Chinese black bean sauce, known for its rich umami flavor and versatility, has been a staple in Chinese cuisine for centuries. Made from fermented black soybeans, this sauce adds depth and complexity to a wide range of dishes, from stir-fries to steamed fish. In this article, we will explore the origins of Chinese black bean sauce, its ingredients, how it is used in cooking, and some popular dishes that feature this savory condiment.

Prep Time:

15 mins

Cook Time:

20 mins

Total Time:

35 mins

Servings:

15

Recipe Tips

The sauce can be frozen in small portions for a quick, easy stir-fry. 

Use about 1/4 cup for a stir-fry for 4 people. Dilute with a bit of broth, water, or soy sauce.

Makes a great marinade for ribs, chicken, or fish.

Add a dollop to your favorite ramen dish, as it is a perfect base for noodle dishes or soups.

Chinese Black Bean Sauce

Origins and Ingredients

Origins

Chinese black bean sauce, also called dòu chǐ jiàng (豆豉酱) in Mandarin, originates from southern China, particularly from the provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. The sauce is made by fermenting black soybeans with salt and sometimes spices, a process that enhances the beans’ natural flavors and creates a complex, salty-sweet taste.

Ingredients

The primary ingredient of Chinese black bean sauce is fermented black soybeans. These beans are salted and left to ferment for several months, developing a unique flavor profile that is both salty and slightly bitter. Other common ingredients include garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sometimes sugar or rice wine to balance the flavors.

Chinese Black Bean Sauce

How Chinese Black Bean Sauce is Made

Production Process

  1. Fermentation: The black soybeans are washed, salted, and then packed into large containers to ferment. During fermentation, natural enzymes break down the proteins and carbohydrates in the beans, transforming their flavor and texture.
  2. Mixing: After fermentation, the beans are mashed or chopped and mixed with garlic, ginger, and other seasonings. Some variations of the sauce include additional ingredients such as chili peppers for spiciness or sugar for sweetness.
  3. Cooking: The mixture is then cooked slowly over low heat to meld the flavors together and create a thick, savory sauce. The cooking process can take several hours to achieve the desired consistency and taste.
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 15
Calories 211
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 22g28%
Saturated Fat 4g18%
Sodium 203mg9%
Total Carbohydrate 3g1%
Dietary Fiber 0g1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin C 30mg33%
Calcium 7mg1%
Iron 0mg2%
Potassium 67mg1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. The amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

Variations

There are regional variations of black bean sauce across China. For example, in Cantonese cuisine, the sauce tends to be more savory with a pronounced garlic flavor, while in Fujian cuisine, it may be sweeter or spicier depending on local preferences.

Chinese Black Bean Sauce

Culinary Uses

Cooking with Chinese Black Bean Sauce

Chinese black bean sauce is incredibly versatile and can be used in various ways:

  • Stir-fries: It is commonly used as a base sauce for stir-frying vegetables, meats, or tofu. The umami-rich flavor of the sauce complements the ingredients and adds depth to the dish.
  • Marinades: It can be used as a marinade for meat, poultry, or seafood before grilling or roasting. The salty-sweet flavor enhances the natural taste of the protein.
  • Steamed Dishes: It is often used as a topping for steamed fish or as a seasoning for steamed vegetables, imparting a rich, savory taste to the dish.
  • Noodles and Rice: It can be mixed with noodles or rice to create a quick and flavorful meal. Stir-fried noodles with black bean sauce, known as” in Mandarin, is a popular dish in northern China.
Chinese Black Bean Sauce

Popular Dishes

Mapo Tofu

One of the most famous dishes featuring Chinese black bean sauce is Mapo Tofu, a spicy Sichuan dish that combines tofu with minced meat, chili peppers, and black bean sauce. The sauce adds a deep umami flavor to the dish, balancing the heat from the peppers.

Black Bean Chicken

In Cantonese cuisine, Black Bean Chicken is a classic dish where chicken pieces are stir-fried with black bean sauce, garlic, and bell peppers. The sauce coats the chicken beautifully, creating a savory and aromatic dish.

Chinese Black Bean Sauce

Buying and Storing

Purchasing Tips

Chinese black bean sauce is readily available in Asian grocery stores and online. It can be found in jars, cans, or vacuum-sealed packs. Look for sauces that list fermented black beans as the main ingredient for the most authentic flavor.

Storage

Once opened, store Chinese black bean sauce in the refrigerator. It will keep for several months if tightly sealed. Always check the expiration date on the packaging for guidance.

Conclusion

Chinese black bean sauce is a key ingredient in Chinese cooking, cherished for its bold flavor and versatility. Whether used in stir-fries, marinades, or steamed dishes, it adds a distinctive savory depth that elevates the taste of any dish. As you explore the world of Chinese cuisine, incorporating black bean sauce into your cooking repertoire will undoubtedly enrich your culinary experience.

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