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Sep 1, 2009 08:09 AM

Name This Chinese Condiment

Looks like it could be an unfermented version of doubanjiang. I bought this stuff even though I didn't know what it was and I've been using it in my cooking, but it nags me that I have no idea what its name is and what it's supposed to be used for. It's manufactured by Sichuan Pixian Douban Company, but it clearly isn't the Doubanjiang I am used to buying and that I use in Sichuanese recipes. The ingredients are almost the same, but it is a bright red chili paste with green broad beans and smells of fresh peppers. The English/French label added by the importer calls it Chili fermented bean paste, but it is not fermented as far as i can tell. I think I may have seen this stuff used in Sichuanese restaurants, but I can't remember what dish it was in. So what is this this stuff, and what dishes is it used in?

Any help with this is greatly appreciated,


I've added a picture of the label for those who read Chinese.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. ...And here's a picture of the jar if it's any help:

    1. The label reads Douban Red Oil (or Red Oil Douban). Perhaps it's a chili oil.

      3 Replies
      1. re: PeterL

        It could just be spicy doubanjiang. My mom's friend uses it in her braised beef and carrots dish. She caramelizes granulated sugar until it's browned, then sautees anise, ginger, szechuan peppercorns, and doubanjiang in it, adds water, and then simmers a large piece of beef shank, chuck, or whatever's on hand. After the meat is half cooked she removes it, cuts it into big pieces, and then returns it to the pot to finish cooking. In the last hour or so of cooking she leaves it uncovered to reduce the sauces, and then in the last 20 minutes she adds large chunks of carrots. I've done it with some success, but her version is always 10 times tastier.

        1. re: Pei

          If by spicy doubanjiang you mean the stuff pictured here:

          That's not it.

          Here's a picture of what I'm trying to identify

        2. re: PeterL

          It does contain oil, but not very much. It is mostly chili and broad bean. I will add that it does have a slight fermented bean smell to it, but nothing like Pixian doubanjiang. I took out my jar of Lee Kum Kee toban djan to compare them and my mystery stuff looks similar, but smells different. It smells less of fermented bean and contains no garlic. It also smells more of fresh chilis.

        3. Does it have any more writing on it that could be instructions or suggestions for use, that you could photograph so they would be legible here? I thought I had cornered the market on Sichuan chili condiments, but don't have or remember seeing this one.

          4 Replies
          1. re: buttertart

            Ok, so I took off the importers sticker and here is the whole label in three pictures.

            Thank you so much for offering your help.

            1. re: SnackHappy

              ops, late again. But I hopt to explaine something. This type of Doubanjiang is a extended product of traditional pixian douban. It is Doubanjiang in red chili oil.
              There are generally two differences about this type and pixian doubanjiang.
              Firstly, it has a shorter fermentation time than traditional pixian doubanjiang
              Secondly, chili oil is added into doubanjiang.
              It is a ready sauce and thus you can use it in cold mixing dishes or in dips.
              But you should use Pixian doubanjiang if you are cooking sichuan hot dishes.
              I hope that this can help .

              1. re: foodloverelaine

                Thank you so much for this info. That makes complete sense.

                Do you know any specific dishes that call for this product?

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  I'm glad you got your answer, because I never saw the pics until you posted this!

          2. My wife translated the label. It's fermented bean paste with red chili oil.

            We use the same stuff (different brand name) in our restaurant to make a sauce to put on a whole wok-roasted fish. I believe the other ingredients are sugar, a little mushroom soy, chopped scallions, a little wine and some rich chicken stock.

            7 Replies
            1. re: shaogo

              Thanks so much for the info and recipe. Do you know of any other dishes that use this product?

              1. re: SnackHappy

                Pixian sauce plays a prominent role in Fuchsia Dunlop's book Land of Plenty as it is the most famous Sichuan doubanjiang. I think the best known dish in which it is used is mapo tofu.

                The broad beans in my last jar of a Pixian brand were fairly hard so I always chopped it up before adding it in. I think that it's always cooked in oil in the early stages of a dish. Not sure if it's unsafe to eat raw, but I've never heard of it being used in that way.

                1. re: PorkButt

                  So you're saying that the stuff I bought is what is used in mapo doufu and not the fermented bean paste (pixian doubanjiang) that is pictured here?


                  Now, I'm really confused.

                  1. re: SnackHappy

                    That wiki picture you linked to is of some unknown version of doubanjiang. The picture that you posted here is definitely that of Pixian doubanjiang.

                    Any Chinese doubanjiang could be used to make mapo dofu, but the preferred type for real Sichuan mapo dofu is a regional version from Pi County, Sichuan Province

                    1. re: PorkButt

                      But I have Pixiandouban and it doesn't look or taste like the stuff I put up above. It's darker, has no visible green beans, and is much more pungent. Are you saying that i've been using the wrong stuff?

                      Here's what it looks like:

                      1. re: SnackHappy

                        You didn't mention in your OP that you had bought another brand of Pixian doubanjiang. The color and pungency is a just a sign of how long the sauce has been aged. Whole broad beans versus ground beans is just a matter of style, both are "right" compared to using a sauce made from soybeans.

                  2. re: PorkButt

                    It's safe to eat raw. In Chengdu it's used in salad dressings (there's one wild green that they serve raw). You can make the dressing with oil, black vinegar, a little sugar and toss with any vegetable, raw or cooked, ie parboiled lotus root, spinach, bean sprouts. Sichuanese are great experimenters. Delicious, especially the lotus root.

              2. The original comment has been removed