Fermented black beans (黑豆豆豉), also known as salted black soybeans or douchi. It is very popular all over China, especially in the South. Fermented black beans are the oldest recorded ‘soy food’ in China. In 1972 a jar of fermented black beans were found in Han tomb no. 1. The tomb was sealed around 165 BC.
How is fermented black beans made?
They are made using a two-step fermentation process. The process involves boiling soybeans until soft, then soaking them in water over night. The next morning they would be steamed for 2-3 hours before being inoculated with the koi mold (Aspergillus oryzae) to ferment for 15-21 days and covering them with a brine solution and alcohol to mature for at least 6 months. Then the soybeans are drained and dried in the sun. After this they will be steamed again until soft and then dried in the sun again. This process will take place 3 times before they are ready to be sold.
What does fermented black beans look like?
They are dull and black and looks shrivelled. If you look closely you may see a white powdery substance on them which are the salt crystals.
What does fermented black beans taste like?
They have slight hint of ginger. But the taste really comes alive when you cook with other ingredients such as garlic, ginger, wine or chilli.
How is fermented black beans used in the kitchen?
They are very versatile and can be used whole in stews, crushed for steamed or stir-fried dishes.
Buying and Storing
Fermented black beans are sole in sealed plastic bags or in cardboard cartons. They can be bought at any Asian/Oriental supermarkets.
Once opened, store in an airtight container in a dark cool place.
Classic recipes using fermented black beans
The Chinese Kitchen by Deh-Ta Hsiang