Are these fermented black beans?
I went shopping for fermented black beans at the Super 88 in Boston, but came up with two glass jars- one titled 'Black bean in soy sauce' and the other 'Hot black bean.' No one who worked there spoke English, and I looked everywhere. The ingredients are black beans, oil, soy sauce, sesame oil. Not fermented?
I assume I can just use these as stir fry sauces, but where and how do I get the real fermented black beans? If I get to the Asian grocery store, am I looking for a bag, a jar, a can? I live in NYC.
I just took a look at the bag of fermented black beans I have in the fridge but it only had Chinese characters on it. You might find these in several types of packaging: one is a clear plastic bag - often in a 8 -12 oz size. These typically will just have the fermented black beans - no liquid but sometimes there will be some dried ginger. My favorite is in a yellow cylindrical cardboard container - Pearl River Bridge is the name I think. We're talking about $1.50 or so.
I find fermented black beans in a plastic bag. I store the fermented black beans in a glass jar in the fridge. As ethnic grocer posted, small firm black beans with visable salt, and some sticks and twigs too. I rinse them, removed the debris, crush with garlic and use in stir frys.
I have also purchased Lee Kum Kee brand of Black Bean Sauce. Fermented black bean paste, garlic, and maybe oil ?, costs ~$3 for ~8 oz jar. In the San Francisco area, mainstream grocery stores carry Lee Kum Kee items.
From Ethnic Grocer:
Fermented black beans are small, black soybeans that have been preserved in salt. Also known as Chinese black beans or salty or salted black beans, they have a very strong, salty flavor and are generally soaked for a half hour or so in fresh water before being added to a dish.
Fermented black beans are not the same thing as black bean sauce, although you can substitute the sauce for the beans in a pinch. The sauce is much more widely available in supermarkets, but you should look in the ethnic foods aisle anyway, and any Asian market will carry them. They are also available at EthnicGrocer.com, where they are listed as Salted Black Beans