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October 21, 2016

Fermented Chinese Black Beans

Post by Cinde Little

A container of Chinese black beans, also called preserved beans.
Chinese Black Beans -photo credit Jim Little

Chinese black beans are naturally gluten free and I couldn’t do without this special ingredient. However, they do go by many different names so a bit of an explanation may be helpful.

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Black Beans vs Chinese Black Beans

First off, Chinese black beans are not the black beans or black turtle beans you may be familiar with using in Latin American, Mexican and Southwestern dishes. Canned or dry black beans show up in salads, can be made into black bean dip, are served as black beans on rice or in a variety of savoury dishes from quesadillas to chili. This post is not about those beans.

Chinese Black Beans vs Fermented Black Beans vs Salted Black Beans vs Preserved Black Beans

Chinese black beans go by many different names but their complex, pungent flavour is unmistakable. They are dried, black soybeans. The ones I buy are in the yellow box as shown in the photo, Yang Jiang brand. In the process of fermenting them they use salt. That process is a way to preserve them. So technically all of those names make sense.

It can be a little confusing when you simply want to cook with them but this brand has never changed in the more than thirty years I have been using them. It may take a little searching but I can always find these at my Asian grocery store. You can also buy them on line at Amazon.

Is Chinese Black Bean Sauce Gluten Free?

No, none of it! At least that is my experience. They all have soy sauce and wheat on the label. I’m sure you can, or will be able to some day, find a gluten free brand. I quit looking and just make my own. It takes less than ten minutes and it works for me.

Chinese Black Bean Sauce with the original container of preserved black beans.
Chinese Black Bean Sauce -photo credit Jim Little

I have a separate post with my recipe for Chinese Black Bean Sauce along with recipe suggestions to use it. What you need to know is that these Chinese black beans and the black bean sauce made from them can be used in many Asian recipes. Use it when you see bean sauce, black bean sauce, ground bean sauce or Chinese bean sauce in any recipe. If a recipe calls for these exact names but includes with garlic or with ginger in the name, simply use the sauce and adjust the garlic or ginger to your liking.

Storing Chinese Black Beans

As you can see in the photo I cleverly store my Chinese Black Beans in a jar with the black bean sauce recipe attached to it. I only make this recipe once or twice a year so when I do I want it right there.

In the comments below I’d love to hear where you found these black beans and what you used them for.


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