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Making Chinese Black Bean Sauce

My favourite black bean sauce is out of production and I don't like the commercially produced stuff. Has anyone tried making their own? I see several recipes on the 'net but not sure which one would be the right one. Suggestions appreciated.

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  1. If you have a Chinese market near you they'll have "fresh" black beans. You rinse them in water and mash them up with fresh garlic.
    You'll never go back to the stuff in the jar again.

    2 Replies
    1. re: monku

      Do you mean 'fresh' or 'fermented'? I have seen so many references to fermented. That's it, just fresh garlic? Seems too easy. I can't go back to the jar stuff after eating the housemade black bean sauce at a favourite restaurant. They stopped making it unfortunately.

      1. re: sarah galvin

        Yes, I meant fermented. Store in the refrigerator.
        Just rinse with water first.
        The jar stuff came on the market maybe 25 years ago?

    2. I like this recipe, though I cannot say that I have ever used a store-bought version.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kelseylanesmith

        This looks like an interesting recipe. I'll certainly give it a try. I would also like to make a black bean sauce without the chilis.

      2. Before there was prepared black bean sauce, I learned to season with fermented black beans. Not complicated. Just rinse several times in cold water, crush with a spoon and use. I suggest you wait until beans are added to add salt to the dish. The beans will keep in the fridge for months.

        1. Here's a Mark Bittman recipe for stir fried shrimp with black beans:


          I've made it many times, it's a cinch, and you can replace the shrimp with any ol' thing. I don't rinse my black beans, nor do I refrigerate them, but now I'm thinking maybe I should.

          2 Replies
          1. re: small h

            Best darned Shrimp w/ Lobster Sauce you will ever eat....
            Mash up a tablespoon or two of black beans with some garlic and heat in hot oil. Add 1/2 pound of ground pork and brown. Add some corn starch slurry a tablespoon of oyster sauce then a pound of peeled and deveined shrimp. Cook till the shrimp is just pink and add a couple raw eggs and stir.

            1. re: small h

              I love scallops with black bean sauce. I am definitely going to be using fermented black beans from now on. Thanks for all the ideas.

            2. Mom taught me to make our own black bean sauce at a very young age so it's something I do regularly. Once you've had the home stuff, it's hard to do the jar version. Believe it or now, some people still know how to ferment their own black beans. During my mom's last HK visit, one of her friends gave us some homemade fermented black bean and boy it's good. Very old school flavouring which you can't get anymore with commercial brands.

              2 Replies
                1. re: gourmet wife

                  I am desperate to learn how to make fermented black beans from scratch. Can your Mum put me in touch with anyone who can help?

                2. Did you end up finding a good black bean recipe? I tried buying a jar of black bean sauce from the asian market, and I've also tried the one in the bag. Not sure what the brand was, but both were terrible. Both were way too garlicky and the other in the jar was just plain gross. What was I doing wrong? I love green beans and chicken in black bean sauce.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: iloveyou

                    I had a direct email from someone. It was a recipe for single use and I was thinking of making a larger batch so it would be ready in the fridge. I love scallops with black bean sauce.

                    1. re: iloveyou

                      Try this recipe link. It's not that you need a black bean sauce so much, it's an option, but actual fermented black beans, added towards the end of cooking. The stock and shaoxing wine in the recipe will make a sauce. I use the fermented beans in the bag and rinse before using:


                    2. LKK is the most popular brand and it's tasty. It's hard to mess up this sauce. With the bottle stuff or my home made versions, I like to add some heat... either some Korean Hot Bean Paste and/or some Sichuan Peppercorns, Thai (bird) chilis, green peppercorns and also some rice wine and sesame oil to kick it up a notch or two. If your palate is like mine and if you love some heat, try making a spicy version.

                      This sauce is very strong and those that say it is too strong, used too much of the sauce.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: darrelll

                        Thanks, Darrell. I had not checked in for awhile. The black bean sauce I am used to does not have heat, but it is very strong.

                        1. re: sarah galvin

                          Yes, traditional recipes don't add any heat. But I've been dining in Thaitown and Jitlada's Southern Thai food and nowadays, I seem to always want to kick things up a notch.

                      2. I have never had a commercially-made black bean sauce that I've liked. The best is made by Lee Kum Kee (China), and it is readily available.
                        But if you really want to appreciate Chinese food, flavor, and authenticity, go to Chinatown and buy fermented, salted black beans. They're a tenth of the price you'd pay elsewhere. All you do is put a teaspoonful or so in a small strainer, rinse in cold water, then crush them with a spoon or fork & add to what you're cooking. The odor when they're cooking is a bit strong, but the taste is sublime. And be careful, because you may find the occasionsl small stone in the beans ..... If you ever bite into one of those babies, you'll need a visit to the dentist!!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: giaceats

                          I threw out my whole jar of Lee Kum Kee black bean sauce because I thought it tasted foul. I think the garlic they use is the main culprit, but there's also a bunch of other stuff in there that's not only low quality, but just doesn't belong.

                          Presently, I'm digging on a jar of "Caravelle" brand I got from the local asian market. It only has fermented black beans, soy oil, and sugar. The soy oil's smokey/perfumey flavor is a little too pronounced, but it's still the best pre-made stuff I've tasted.

                          1. re: jahogna

                            I tried so many black bean pastes, and found the best bet & best tasting is simple salted black beans, rinsed in warm water, then slightly crushed with a spoon ..... absolutely delicious!!

                            1. re: giaceats

                              yes, I've been looking for a bag of salted black beans, but am surprised none of the asian markets around here have them.

                        2. The beans that are used are black soy beans and they can be found online. I came to this site hoping for a good recipe. Not to be found.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: I_Fortuna

                            Try experimenting with your recipes. It's part of the fun & you can adjust foods & spices to your own taste. I never follow a strict recipe, but do something a bit different every time .... it adds a bit of mystery & adventure to what I'm cooking. Recipes should ONLY serve as guides anyway.

                            My favorite recipes using fermemnted black beans call for the beans themselves (rinsed, crushed), grated fresh ginger, soy sauce, mirin, and oyster sauce. You can add or delete as you see fit.

                            And I never keep my salted beans in the fridge. There's no need. Just store them in a tightly-sealed jar or container.

                            Bon appetit to you and all our Chowhounds!

                            1. re: giaceats

                              Thanks for your very kind post. I did not intend to come across so abruptly. Perhaps my frustration was showing through. I do apologize if I did.
                              What I really am interested in was how to make a fermented black soybean paste. I may have to find the Chinese yeast ball necessary online because I would have to drive for hours to get it otherwise. Fermented black soybean paste is an art I think.
                              Fermentation takes time and knowing what yeast or bacterias are the ones that produce the precise flavor of fermented black bean paste. Yes, salt is part of the process, however, there is a particular yeast necessary as well along with other ingredients.
                              Once I find out what the fermentation process is, I will try to come back to this site and share it. I think it has something to do with fermented rice, and perhaps the whey from fermented rice and Chinese wine. By the way, buying Chinese rice wine is risky and should contain a good deal of alcohol or it will go bad unlike Japanese sake even if refrigerated.
                              In any case, the soybeans have to be soaked for probably a minimum of 16 hours in order to remove some phytic acid which is actually less than yellow soybeans but does interfere with absorbtion of certain minerals. I believe fermentation removes the rest of the phytic acid and possibly the trypsin that interferes with the digestibility.
                              My goal is to make mapo tofu which contains fermented black soybean paste as a major ingredient. If you have ever had it properly made, it is heavenly. Thanks again, wish me luck!

                              1. re: I_Fortuna

                                Good luck, I_Fortuna. I hope you find what you're looking for. Your quest is a bit over my head, but it sure sounds interesting. And I know how you feel ..... we folks will travel far & wide to get what we need to make our favorite recipes. I admire your fortitude & determination.

                          2. I keep fermented black beans in a jar in my cupboard, not the fridge. They'll get stronger and stronger with age, but they'll last forever. When I'm ready to use some, I'll put maybe two tablespoons of beans in a small bowl, and pour just a little bit of really hot water over them to soak. I've never measured, but I'd guess I use about the same quantity of water as beans. While the beans are soaking and softening, mince up about a tablespoon of fresh ginger, as well as a few toes of garlic (up to you how much you use). After the beans have been soaking for about half an hour, mash 'em up with the back of a spoon, making sure you've crushed every bean. Add the ginger and garlic, some crushed red pepper flakes (again, to your tastes), a pinch of sugar, and maybe a small shot of soy sauce it it seems a bit too thick (it should be more paste-y than sauce-y). It's ready to use.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ricepad

                              Hi Ricepad, Do you have a recipe for the process of making fermented soybeans from scratch? Very much appreciated if you do. thanks : c)

                              1. re: I_Fortuna

                                No, sorry. I buy fermented beans by the bag.

                            2. Use fermented black beans. Place them in a spice grinder. Add garlic, 5-spice, and THICK soy sauce. You can order that online. Add Chinese Sichuan pepper. Hit the button on the spice grinder.

                              Good to go.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: wGraves

                                Sounds great .... I'm going to give it a try.

                                It's great to see so many hounds interested in authentic Asian. Help & advice is also exceptional. Warms the "black beans" & cockles of my heart!!