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Authentic Szechuan style Doubanjiang in Los Angeles.

sasidhar79 Apr 13, 2011 04:50 PM

Hi,

I am looking for the authentic Szechuan Doubanjiang (spicy fermented bean paste) in Los Angeles.

This paste is added as a spicy base to all Szechuan style stirfry.

If somebody can help me find it I'd be very thankful.

thnak you

regards
sasi

  1. w
    will47 Jan 14, 2013 09:36 PM

    While poking around in response to

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/690987 and
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/840489

    I noted down the location of the Juancheng brand at various stores (note that other places sell this too; these are just the places I happened to stop by).

    168 on Las Tunas (3 varieties) - Aisle 9, right side, less than halfway forward.

    SG Superstore (Shun Fat) on Valley and San Gabriel (2 varieties) - Right now it's on the endcap in the back end between aisles 16 and 17 (see attached image). I believe that those pouches next to it are one type of tianmianjiang (sweet bean paste) that you could use for some of the recipes in Fuchsia Dunlop's new cookbook.

    99 Ranch (Da Hua) on Valley and Del Mar (2 varieties) - Aisle 5A, most of the way towards the back of the aisle (see attached image)

     
     
    4 Replies
    1. re: will47
      Mr Taster Jan 14, 2013 10:51 PM

      Interesting-- I was unable to find Pixian douban at that 99 Ranch.

      With regard to the "white pouch" doubanjiang, as Obi-Wan Chung once said, "The white pouch is not the douban you're looking for."

      During my early doubanjiang outings, I was once advised by a helpful clerk at HK Supermarket that the white pouch is not the right stuff for making Sichuan dishes like mapo tofu. He also said the yellow pouch (not posted in your pics) is acceptable. I truly have no idea what the differences between the colored pouches are, but they supposedly go beyond the "grade levels of quality" that it appears to be if you only read the english. Perhaps someone better versed in the ways of douban can chime in here.

      (I posted pics I grabbed of the white and red pouches-- couldn't find the yellow one online)

      Mr Taster

       
       
      1. re: Mr Taster
        Mr Taster Jan 14, 2013 11:01 PM

        Alright, I managed to pull my Lovely Tasting Assistant away from her pharmacy studies long enough to translate for me.

        The four main character on the front of the red one say "DOUBAN PIXIAN" (meaning bean paste from Pixian county, the famous area where this is a specialty).

        The white one says "DOUBAN HONG YOU" or, "red oil bean paste", like chili oil. No mention of Pixian in the name itself.

        I've never bought the white pouch (or the yellow one, for that matter), so I'm not exactly sure how they differ.

        Mr Taster

        1. re: Mr Taster
          w
          will47 Jan 15, 2013 08:35 AM

          Don't know if you can make it out, but the orange one (at 168) looks like this.

          The red one says something like 'first quality' (一级豆瓣), and I think the orange one just says 红豆瓣 (red douban), but the price is about the same (both more expensive than the white bag).
          http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a...

          I usually use the one in the red bag.

           
          1. re: will47
            Mr Taster Jan 15, 2013 11:16 AM

            Alright, so red bag = 1st quality, yellow bag = some other grade of quality, and the white bag = douban in chili oil. Guess I'll stick with the red bag, too. (Though for a buck fifty I may as well give the yellow one a shot)

            Mr Taster

    2. w
      will47 Oct 21, 2011 07:07 PM

      Just an update - I noticed today that a lot of the Pixian doubanjiang available at HK market on San Gabriel, south of Las Tunas comes in a pouch or bag. At that market, they're sitting on top of the frozen food bins near the produce section. They have a fair number of different types, many of which have few ingredients - the one I got claims to just have chili, broad beans, salt, and wheat flour. Haven't looked at other markets yet, but I'd guess a lot of them sell the pouches of doubanjiang as well.

      14 Replies
      1. re: will47
        Thi N. Oct 24, 2011 02:08 PM

        Score and nice eyes, Will. I'll check it out, I'm tempted to go buy every variety and run them all through some basic dishes...

        1. re: will47
          Mr Taster Apr 21, 2012 08:29 AM

          Greatly appreciate the update. I was in the market for doubanjiang a few days ago and forgot about this thread completely. Was at 99 Ranch in San Gabriel and selection was extremely limited. I think the brand I got was made in Industry... Didn't see a Made in Taiwan note but I will look closer at it when I am back in town.

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster
            Mr Taster Oct 21, 2012 01:41 PM

            I'm trying to track some of the Pixian stuff as I type this. I was just in Hawaii supermarketand and they had one brand from Pixian, but all of the jars expires a year ago. On to 99 ranch...

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster
              Mr Taster Oct 21, 2012 09:03 PM

              Went to Hawaii, 99 Ranch SG and Shun Fat before finally finding it at 99 Ranch Atlantic/Garvey. And not expired!

              For what its worth, the Lee Kum Kee brand was everywhere, as was the "City of Industry" brand. Mapo tofu, here I come

              Mr Taster

              1. re: Mr Taster
                w
                will47 Oct 21, 2012 10:04 PM

                168 (at least the one on Las Tunas) carries 3 different grades of the 鹃城牌 (Juancheng brand) one in the pouch - red, orange, and white (red and orange are higher grade than white, I think). I am pretty sure SG Superstore and the Ranch 99 at Focus Plaza carry it too (but as mentioned above, they sometimes keep it in a different area). And I think HK has it too.

                1. re: will47
                  Mr Taster Oct 21, 2012 10:50 PM

                  When I didn't find it at 99 Ranch in Focus Plaza I checked at the liquor wall at the front of the store. They had XO sauce but no doubanjiang.

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster
                    j
                    JThur01 Oct 22, 2012 10:23 AM

                    As mentioned further up, HK Market on San Gabriel Blvd. (just below Las Tunas), has a good assortment.

                    On a whole, that place has many mainland items I haven't seen at any other area markets.

                    1. re: JThur01
                      Mr Taster Oct 22, 2012 11:49 AM

                      For some reason I couldn't find HK supermarket on San Gabriel (and I've been there several times), but I admittedly didn't look very hard. (Google maps sent me to the wrong location at the SW corner of Las Tunas and San Gabriel, and then I got hungry and decided to finally try Slaw Dogs instead.)

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster
                        w
                        will47 Oct 22, 2012 12:13 PM

                        It's just a little south of Las Tunas. But there's also a 168 in that area now (on Las Tunas) which is a lot nicer and cleaner (and also sells it).

                        1. re: will47
                          Mr Taster Oct 29, 2012 02:36 PM

                          Made it to HK Supermarket (finally!) yesterday. I was wrong, I had not been there before. They did have quite an amazing selection of douban. In fact, they had one entire endcap with the jarred stuff (facing the live fish tanks/meat counter). Additionally they had the Juan Cheng brand douban (among others) in pouches on shelves over the refrigerated case in the produce section. (I saw a red pouch and yellow one-- the yellow one I think says "red bean")

                          Oh, and live (huge) bullfrogs leaping around in a box near the fishtanks. Hadn't seen that before (in America).

                          And fresh water chestnuts! Almost forgot.

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster
                            Mr Taster Nov 27, 2012 02:36 PM

                            I borrowed Fuchsia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty" from the LA Library and made the mapo tofu recipe.

                            GOOD LORD, what stuff of gods and beasts this is! The dish was unlike any mapo tofu I'd ever tasted before.

                            I managed to find (also at HK Supermarket) the whole fermented black beans (Pearl River Bridge brand).

                            http://www.philamfood.com/images/T/pr...

                            Ms. Dunlop says the finest ones come from Yongchuan county, and that one should purchase the dried beans (as opposed to ones packed in brine). Pearl River Bridge seems to be a Cantonese brand, but considering that these were the only dry fermented black beans I could find, I felt lucky just to have these. Prepared black bean sauce, from Kikkoman to Lee Kum Kee, abound however- and I imagine would be a good alternative in a pinch.

                            Mr Taster

              2. re: Mr Taster
                ipsedixit Oct 22, 2012 10:30 AM

                ... but all of the jars expires a year ago.
                ________________________________

                It's better the older it gets.

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  s
                  SteveRB Oct 22, 2012 11:07 AM

                  I shop at the San Diego 99 Ranch, and they keep the BROADBEAN paste made in Pixian County in the same area that has spices (such as five-spice powder, white pepper, etc.). It comes in foil pouches...all their jarred paste/sauces are mostly or all soybeans.

                  I don't know if their other stores are layed out the same way, but thought I would mention that.

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    Mr Taster Oct 22, 2012 11:26 AM

                    Hm, but it's not continuing to ferment in clay pots, benefiting from the indigenous terroir of Pixian County.

                    It's going rancid in a plastic jar in Hawai'i Supermarket.

                    Mr Taster

            2. s
              sel Apr 25, 2011 01:42 AM

              OK, I've read the first 20 replys and must add that doubanjiang from Sichuan is only sometimes available locally. The last few times that I searched I had trouble finding the usual small clear plastic jars that usually had a red plastic lid with a little carry handle. I had bought these in the past at 168, Rosemead and Hawaii Supermarkets. I did find a 3000 gram clear plastic container with a red plastic lid and carry handle at Hawaii Supermarket in the area with the larger size items ment for restaurants. A bit large for some but it is the right stuff from the right place!

              http://www.chow.com/photos/267365

              2 Replies
              1. re: sel
                m
                MushMage Apr 25, 2011 10:25 AM

                And have you ever found any premium stuff? Doubanjiang was recently featured on Bizarre foods on the Travel Channel and Andrew said there were premium batches that sold for 60-80 USD. Being somewhat familiar with Szechuan cuisine, I know that the better quality stuff is leaps and bounds ahead of the regular mass produced batches. Similar in a way to olive oil, you can buy the supermarket stuff and then you can buy the proper stuff. Has anyone managed to find a bottle worth more than a couple bucks?

                1. re: MushMage
                  ipsedixit Apr 25, 2011 10:28 AM

                  The premium stuff is usu. kept behind the counters, along with the bottles of liquor favored by Chinese folks (e.g. Johnny Walkers, Remy Martins, etc.).

              2. Thi N. Apr 19, 2011 08:58 AM

                Fuchsia Dunlop, of the Only Great Sichuan Cookbook In English, Land of Plenty, apparently tried all the doubanjiang's available in the US and recommends Lee Kum Kee brand. It has some additives, but it tastes in the right range of genuine Sichuany-ness to me. Hawaii Supermarket in the gaberhood has a huge massive selection of Lee Kum Kee stuff...

                8 Replies
                1. re: Thi N.
                  w
                  will47 Apr 19, 2011 03:45 PM

                  Where does she recommend it? I've seen this:
                  http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/sichuan-...
                  but it's hardly a ringing endorsement. (See also the comments section).

                  I could see her endorsing it as something that's widely available, and in many parts of the US, probably the only such thing available -- but here in Southern California, I think it's possible to do a lot better. I have tried the Lee Kum Kee brand a time or two (needed some in a pinch), but I have better luck overall with other products. I think the LKK one has some kind of weird tastes, whether or not they have to do with the preservatives. It also does not meet the OP's requests for no additives / preservatives, and even if you don't mind that it's not made in Sichuan, it's not even something that this company specializes in.

                  1. re: will47
                    sasidhar79 Apr 19, 2011 05:24 PM

                    Thank you very much for understaing my post, I have taken a look at Lee Kum Kee brand it is defnitely not what I am looking for, I am looking for doubajiang produced in Sichuan.
                    I am taking the suggestion of " ipsedixit" and drivinf to Focus Plaza 99 Ranch in San Gabriel.

                    -----
                    99 Ranch
                    17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

                  2. re: Thi N.
                    sasidhar79 Apr 19, 2011 05:18 PM

                    Thank you , I am not a big fan of Lee Kum Kee brand as I am looking for authentic doubanjiang which is produced in Sichuan province in PRC.

                    1. re: sasidhar79
                      w
                      will47 Apr 19, 2011 06:06 PM

                      Just for what it's worth, you may also want to consider some of the ones made in Taiwan.

                      1. re: will47
                        sasidhar79 Apr 20, 2011 02:26 PM

                        Thank you, but original post is about authentic sichuan doubanjiang, therefore I am looking for it.

                        1. re: sasidhar79
                          m
                          MushMage Apr 24, 2011 05:18 PM

                          Hey, I've been reading this thread for a for a few days and decided to jump in. I too am looking for some decent Doubanjiang. I'm really hoping to find one made the traditional way and with no MSG. I can't even seem to find a shop online that sells the premium stuff. Have you managed to find any yet?

                    2. re: Thi N.
                      Mr Taster Nov 27, 2012 02:59 PM

                      Thi, did you ever manage to find the "facing heaven chile" that you were looking for in this 2004 post? On Sunday I saw that HK Supermarket had bags of the skinny dried Thai-style chiles, not the ones described in Dunlop's book.

                      Would also be curious if you ever found the alternate "seven star" chile she describes below.

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/58728

                      Description:
                      "In the Sichuanese capital, Chengdu, the most common type is the "facing-heaven" chile (chao tian jiao), a short, plump, lustrously red chile that is moderately hot and very fragrant (the chiles grow upward, hence their name). A similar variety, the "seven-star" chile (qi xing jiao), is named because the chiles grow in bunches of about seven....Be cautious in substituting tiny Thai chiles (about an inch long), which can be deadly hot and quite unpalatable if used in Sichuanese quantities. Sun-dried chiles are usually snipped in half or cut into livers before use, and as many seeds discarded as possible."

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster
                        Mr Taster Nov 27, 2012 03:00 PM

                        Answering my own question-- this 2010 thread gives me a great place to start looking.

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/690987

                        Mr Taster

                    3. sasidhar79 Apr 15, 2011 02:16 PM

                      I went to 99 Ranch on Pioneer Blvd in Artesia, CA last night , I could not find the authentic Doubanjiang and they do not have any in behind the counter where they store the premium alcohol.

                      Please give me some suggestions about where I can get the authentic doubanjiang.

                      99 Ranch
                      17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA Remove

                      -----
                      99 Ranch
                      17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: sasidhar79
                        ipsedixit Apr 15, 2011 03:11 PM

                        Never been to the 99 Ranch in Artesia, but the on in San Gabriel has them, both the blue and yelow jars from Sichuan, as well as the one wrapped in a bamboo basket.

                        At Hawai'i market, they are in the counter where they sell the conpoy.

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          sasidhar79 Apr 15, 2011 04:28 PM

                          Thank you very much. The one in San Gabriel is that the one in Focus Plaza ? If you have the address to this place please let me know.

                          thank you again

                          1. re: sasidhar79
                            ipsedixit Apr 15, 2011 05:09 PM

                            Yes, the one in the Focus Plaza on the SW corner of Valley and Del Mar. Hawai'i Market is right across the street as well.

                            -----
                            Del Mar Cafe
                            712 S Del Mar Ave, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                            1. re: ipsedixit
                              sasidhar79 Apr 18, 2011 03:04 PM

                              thank you very much

                              1. re: sasidhar79
                                ipsedixit Apr 18, 2011 08:00 PM

                                I'm glad you posted, b/c I was there at Ranch 99 over the weekend, and they do indeed have it. It's on the shelves. If you don't read Chinese, ask someone.

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  sasidhar79 Apr 19, 2011 05:19 PM

                                  thank you , I shall try the 99 Ranch in focus plaza.

                                  -----
                                  99 Ranch
                                  17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

                      2. ipsedixit Apr 13, 2011 05:04 PM

                        Just about any Chinese supermarket will carry them, e.g. Ranch99, Hawai'i, 168, Arcadia, Shun Fat, San Gabriel Superstore, etc.

                        Just depends if you are looking for a specific brand.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          sasidhar79 Apr 13, 2011 05:21 PM

                          Thank you, I am looking for the authentic style which contains just chilli paste, broad beans, water , salt and wheat flour.

                          1. re: sasidhar79
                            w
                            will47 Apr 13, 2011 06:14 PM

                            You can go to any of those stores and look through the ingredients. Just keep in mind some places organize by brand and some by type.

                            I think finding some with just these ingredients will be possible. Some will probably contain MSG and / or preservatives. While there might be some benefit to finding one made in Sichuan, you could also consider a few of the brands made in Taiwan.

                            I can try to take a picture of the kind I have at home. It's got a little MSG in it, though.

                            1. re: will47
                              sasidhar79 Apr 13, 2011 06:29 PM

                              Thank you

                              1. re: sasidhar79
                                ipsedixit Apr 13, 2011 08:10 PM

                                For some of the higher-end products, look for them behind the counter where they store the alchohol (i.e. Remy Martin, Johnny Walker Blue Label, etc. and all the other favorite Chinese hard liquor brands).

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  sasidhar79 Apr 15, 2011 11:44 AM

                                  I went to 99 Ranch on Pioneer Blvd in Artesia, CA last night , I could not find the authentic Doubanjiang and they do not have any in behind the counter where they store the premium alcohol.

                                  Please give me some suggestions about where I can get the authentic doubanjiang.

                                  -----
                                  99 Ranch
                                  17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    Mr Taster Jan 14, 2013 11:06 PM

                                    Ipse, have you (or has anyone else, for that matter) spotted the higher end douban?

                                    I've been keeping my eyes open (near the liquor lockbox areas, as you suggest) but have yet to find any place that sells it.

                                    Mr Taster

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