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Nov 18, 2006 08:05 AM

Name that bean paste!

When I was in college, an Asian-American girl in my dorm had this jar of bean paste. She let me try some, and ended up giving me the whole jar because I liked it so much. It made a great condiment. I was so wrapped up in college stuff that I never bothered to learn the name of the paste. There was no English on the label.

Recently I went to a local Asian market in search of this tasty stuff. Unfortunately, I think that about half the products in the store were made of some sort of bean. I tried out some tian mian jiang, which is used in zha jiang mian (or so I have read). That definitely wasn't what I was looking for.

So who can help me identify this mystery paste? My dormmate was either Chinese or Korean, so I'm guessing that her bean paste was, too. It was dark and glossy, and it had a homogenous texture. The flavor was savory, spicy, a little bit sweet and sort of...smoky? Husky? The consistency was smooth and similar to that of hoisin sauce. Easily mixable and spreadable, but not runny.


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  1. My first guess is hot bean paste which I would describe as spicy, salty and smoky. Not sweet. This is dark brown and spreads easily. But, as you say, there are lots of bean pastes!

    1. Could be Kochujang or Ton ban jang

      1. Probably Dou Ban Jiang if it was hot and salty. It can be used as is (added to a bit of liquid, usually) to create a sauce for a stir fry or soup. There are many others, as you found, but this is one that is a very common ingredient in things like so-called "Home-Style" dishes.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Boythefoodtalksto

          That is to say 豆瓣醬. It is an essential staple in kitchens in Taiwan and parts of the Mainland. (The Chinese characters will appear correctly if you set your browser encoding to "UTF-8".)