Popular, versatile Chinese black bean sauce can be easily made at home. I have three versions to share: classic, with mushrooms or with minced meat.
One of my readers tried out my recipe for Authentic Mapo tofu. Apparently she was very satisfied with the outcome. Then she asked me how to use fermented black beans to create other dishes. I suggested she could make some spicy black bean sauce (辣豆豉酱). “It’s extremely versatile! You can simply add it to many Chinese dishes.” Today I’m sharing three versions of my homemade black bean sauce: classic, with mushrooms and with minced meat.
It’s quite common to find dishes seasoned by black bean sauce on the menu in Chinese restaurants / takeaways. There are also many types of black bean sauce available either in mainstream supermarkets or Asian shops. It’s considered to be one of the most popular sauces for Chinese cuisine. It’s aromatic, pungent, salty and slightly sweet. It also has a hint of earthy bitterness which makes it very unique in flavour. The great thing about it is that it goes well with all types of ingredients: vegetable, meat, tofu, fish and seafood. You can find it in dishes cooked in various ways : stir-fried, steamed, braised or for making dipping sauces, etc.
As I love cooking everything from scratch, I’m always interested in creating recipes for homemade sauces. I have three good reasons for that: 1. You know exactly what you are eating and you are free to choose healthy, good quality ingredients (no hidden ingredients, no flavouring, no additive, no preservative, no colouring, etc.). 2. Homemade sauces often taste better than shop-bought ones. And you can add your favourite ingredients to make it unique. 3. It’s fun to make it (Don’t you love the sense of achievement?) and believe me, it’s easier than you would imagine to make scrumptious Chinese sauces.
Three main ingredients are usually found in black bean sauce: fermented black beans (aka black beans, 豆豉), garlic and soy sauce. I like adding a few more ingredients to enrich its flavour.
- Season the cooking oil with spring onion, ginger and Sichuan pepper (optional) before frying the other ingredients.
- Add Shaoxing rice wine, pure sesame oil to give the flavour another dimension.
- Spice it up with fresh chilli, both for making it pleasantly hot and for adding a bit of bright colour to this dark sauce.
Apart from my classic version of black bean sauce, I’m very pleased to introduce another two versions. The first one is vegetarian / vegan friendly: fry some finely chopped shiitake mushroom before cooking the black beans. The second one is for those who fancy a bit of meaty taste: add minced beef / pork instead of mushrooms.
As you can see in the photo above, I cooked three dishes to demonstrate how you might use my three versions of homemade black bean sauce:
- Braised spare ribs with classic black bean sauce.
- Stir-fried celery with mushroom black bean sauce
- Rice noodles and blanched pak choi with minced meat black bean sauce
They are just examples of black bean sauce’s usage. You are free to create your own scrumptious recipes with this versatile seasoning. Be bold with ingredients and cooking methods. I highly recommend you to make this sauce in advance then store in the fridge (see tips in the recipe). When it’s dinner time, just scoop some out and add to the dish you are cooking. If you are not planning to cook, simply use it as a spread on bread / Chinese steam buns or as a sandwich / taco dressing.
Thank you for taking your time to read my post. I hope it encourages you to make some. Tell me what are your favourite dishes with black bean sauce found in Chinese restaurants / takeaway. I will write recipes for you to make them in your own kitchen.
See recipe using black bean sauce & learn more about fermented black beans: