Fermented black (soy) beans??
I want to make the Bittman shrimp and black bean recipe from today's Times. My question is about the black beans. Are these sold loose by the pound as well as in glass jars? Can I find them in midtown (far east 50s or within wallking distance) or should I just head for Chinatown? And in Chinatown..what section of a market? Are they kept under refrigeration?
Don't know about midtown, but you can find them in nearly any grocery in Chinatown. No, they're not refrigerated; usually just out on a shelf. They're often very tightly shrink-wrapped in a heavy plastic bag--not sold loose or in jars, although there is a brand that is sold in circular cardboard cartons (but that's more difficult to find).
If you're stuck trying to find fermented black beans - why not try using the Lee Kum Kee brand of black bean paste? It's usually found in supermarkets in the Asian foods section and can pretty good as a premade substitute. I think it even has garlic already in it.
The beans are salted, so do not require refrigeration in their original state. They can be sold in plastic pouches or the brand I'm familiar with is in a cardboard cannister with a plastic lining inside.
Actually, Lee Kum Kee makes Black Bean Sauce and Black Bean Garlic Sauce, but not Black Bean Paste. Yes, Black Bean Sauce can be used as a substitute for fermented black beans in a pinch, but the recipe won't taste the same. Just fyi, here's a list of the ingredients in the two Lee Kum Kee sauces:
Ingredients in Lee Kum Kee Black Bean Sauce: Soy sauce, water, fermented blackbean, sugar, soybean oil, salt, caramel color, modified corn starch, xanthan gum.
Ingredients in Lee Kum Kee Black Bean Garlic Sauce: Water, Sugar, Salt, Ginger, Soybeans, Wheat Flour, Caramel Color, Food Starch, Modified Oyster Extractives, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein.