Chinese fermented black beans?
I feel kind of silly asking this, because I think they're the kind of item that should be in every Chinese grocery store on the planet, but I can't seem to find them...
Does anybody know where to buy fermented black beans? All I've ever been able to find is "Black Bean Garlic Sauce", which is a beany-garlicky moosh with no coherent beans in it at all and isn't what I'm looking for.
Bonus points if they're available between Santa Monica and Downtown. I'll drive out to Monterey Park if I have to, but I'd rather not.
I'm 3000 miles away from you, so I can't give you a specific store, but here in the NYC area they are all kept in the area wherever the dried products are displayed.....dried mushrooms, fungus, bean curd and etc.......they are in plastic vacuum sealed bags, not in glass jars. After opening, transfer to an airtight container of your choice.....even a zip lock bag is acceptable.
You need to be more specific. There are several different types of fermented black beans that you can find in Chinese markets.
Are you looking for fresh or canned (or jarred)?
If the latter, look in the aisles in any Chinese market where the fermented tofu is stocked.
If you are looking for fresh ones, the San Gabriel Superstore (SW corner of Valley and Del Mar) carries it, as does Hawaii Supermarket (SE corner of Del Mar and Valley).
99 Ranch market has them in the aisle with all the unusual dried stuff (at least the Gardena one). They are in a plastic bag. There are 99's closer to you I think so they probably have them shelved the same way. I transfer them to a glass jar and they last forever.
My mom wanted a very specific fermented black beans and we found them on the top most shelf, it wasn't very close to the other black beans, so it seemed odd. Sorry can't remember the name, but we have used it for decades now, a cylindrical cardboard container that is mostly yellow and white.
I've attached a pic from Tiger's and Strawberries Blog that shows the Fermented Black Beans / douchi 豆豉 that I use. Be sure rinse off the excess salt under the tap with cold water. Available in any Chinese market, most Asian markets. Also get the larger box which is a better value than the same thing in little plastic bags, they last forever without refrigeration.
I believe what you are looking for are salted fermented soybeans. 99 Ranch carries them, as should any other Asian Market. There is a 99 Ranch on Sepulveda and Victory, which isn't exactly between Santa Monica and Downtown, but could be if you got really lost. If you do go there be sure to grab a bowl of pho at Pho So 1, or Pho 999 (same strip mall or across the street).