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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.

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  1. 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.

    Good Luck.

    1. 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).

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          4 Replies
          1. re: justagthing

            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.


            1. re: sel

              Thanks, the picture is helpful. I found some dried black beans at Wing Hop Fung; I haven't tried them yet so I don't know if they're what I'm looking for, but I suspect not.

              1. re: Bjartmarr

                You're welcome. Note that although they are 'dried' they are soft, not hard like bags of conventional dried beans.

              2. re: sel

                Tuned into this old post when looking for some help with a Saveur recipe - would have never found the beans without this pic - big thanks - and ps, Bangkok Market on Melrose in Thai Town has 'em

            2. 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).

              1 Reply
              1. re: ebethsdad

                Ooh...I went to the pho joint in that mini mall a couple weeks ago (the one right next to the 99 ranch), and was entirely unimpressed. The broth lacked flavor. Usually I go to the Pho So 1 over on Reseda just North of Sherman Way.

              2. Well, I guess I've been looking in the wrong section. I never considered that they might be in a bag -- I always looked for them in jars. Thanks a bunch, guys!

                1. You been looking at the Lee Kum Kee black bean sauce in a jar probably? I find those tasteless and never use it. 99 Ranch has it in small clear plastic bags (where the preserved vegetables are) and usually less than 50 cents a small bag. They look like little moist salted black peas which needs to be rinsed and mashed before using. In most cases, it is used along with fresh garlic to bring out it's flavor. In LA Chinatown, I buy mine at Wing Hop Fung on Broadway across Lucky Deli near Alpine. Most Chinese grocery stores will carry it.

                  1. Here in San Diego, almost every large supermarket (Vons, Albertson's, Stater Bros., etc.) have many different Asian sauces in small bottles including garlic black bean sauce. All Asian supermarkets also have many sauces and brands.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dmreed

                      the op is not looking for sauce, rather, the actual black beans...not usually found in the run of the mill markets. but in sd you do have a 99 ranch that carries the stuff as well.

                    2. Are these fermented black beans the same ones that are found in a few dim sum dishes, specifically the soybean wraps? In this dish, only a few of these very tiny gems can be found, but they pack a punch of flavor. If these are not the same, what are THESE look-alikes? I have searched for these in various Asian markets, but I don't actually know what I am looking for.

                      1. In the past, I've purchased canned fermented black beans (don't remember the brand, but definitely an import) from Surfas in Culver City.

                        Surfas Restaurant & Supply
                        8777 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                        1. See Justagthing's and Sel's posts above. Look for the cylindrical cardboard container. Inside that cardboard is a plastic bag that holds the beans that you seem to be looking for. You don't need to go to any sort of specialized stores. This is very basic stuff, found in Chinese markets, big and small. There's a small market in Chinatown that's been there forever, BC market, I want to say it's on College. They should have it.

                          1. Sometimes, the dried black beans will be in round cardboard containers (cardboard is similar to those used in cereal boxes). These would be found close to the bagged versions in the dry food section of most Chinese markets.

                            1. I found them! Finally!

                              The (hard) dried beans that I found at Wing Hop Fung in Chinatown didn't work out. But I did find what I was looking for at a little hole-in-the-wall store in Chinatown, on the corner of (iirc) Ord and New High.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Bjartmarr

                                Those fermented salted black beans come in clear plastic bags and not in cardboard boxes. Ask the store clerk for "dau see" the next time you go to Wind Hop Fung or to the 99 Ranch Market. The texture is soft and moist and not hard.

                                1. re: Clinton

                                  Thanks, Clinton!
                                  One of our favorite dim sum places, Elite, gave me a small container of these because I like them so much! I used them in salads and ... well, everything else, and they pack a punch of flavor! Only a few are needed to spark the taste buds!
                                  I will now go hunting for more, and with everyone's help here, I hope to find them in almost any Chinese market, now that I know what to look for.

                                  1. re: Clinton

                                    They also come in cardboard containers, more of a cylindrical shape than rectangular.

                                  2. re: Bjartmarr

                                    You soak the hard, dried beans in cold water until they get soft enough for you to use.