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Chili bean paste in Hong Kong


Gabriel Lewis
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A Sichuanese friend of mine recently moved to HK, and is having a very hard time finding good dou ban jiang (fava bean chilie bean paste). All she seems to be able to find is Lee Kum Kee brand, and its a far cry from good chilie bean paste which usually only has fava beans, chili, wheat, and salt as ingredients. Anyone know of a market or other source for good chilie bean paste in Hong Kong?

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I e-mailed a friend in Hong Kong and this is the response I got:

"Oh, I wish I knew, Hank. Dou Ban Jiang is rarely, if ever, used in Cantonese cuisine and so it's not surprising that your friend cannot find good ones. I don't really know where one can find quality ones in Hong Kong but I'll pass on the information if I come across any."

Regards,

Hank

'A person's integrity is never more tested than when he has power over a voiceless creature.' A C Grayling.

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Your friend is probably best off bringing some with her next time she goes home... it will be hard to find in HK! Lee Kum Kee has a lock down on the market - and yes, their douban jiang is a far cry from the real thing. Good luck - if all else fails, I'm going down to HK next month and can bring some from the Sichuan government store here. :biggrin:

<a href='http://www.longfengwines.com' target='_blank'>Wine Tasting in the Big Beige of Beijing</a>

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  • 2 months later...

Try the Shanghai groceries in Wanchai, they are referred as "Southern goods groceries" by Hong Kong people. These store sometimes stock authentic dou ban jiang but I am not sure if they still do. Indeed this ingredient is rarely used in Cantoness cooking.

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I live in the U.K. I have the same problem. Lee Kum Lee is ok but I feel I'm missing out on the real thing. As the ingrediants are readily available here so I'm wondering if anyone knows how to make it from scratch? I've searched the internet but come up lacking.

Its salt preserved so all we would need is a salt/flour/broad bean to chilli ratio. I'm presume the broad beans are cooked and mixed with chilli's, salt, water and flour. Then heated to thicken.

Does anyone have any leads on this?

Edited by Mr Wozencroft (log)
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Mr Wozencroft:

There are many types of dou ban jiang in China and they taste very different from one to another. Some are broad bean based and other are soybean based, some are salty, and some are sweet. Some varieties are hot and some varieties are mild.

Which receipt are you looking for?

I can easily locate 20-30 different receipts on the internet – in Chinese. No wonder you could not find it.

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Forgive me for not being more precise. I am looking for a chili bean paste recipe that would be best used in sichuan/hunan cuisine. But on the other hand I love chinese food and would be interested in any formulation that impressed your good self.

Best regards,

Mr. Wozencoft.

Edited by Mr Wozencroft (log)
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Mr. Wozencoft:

Are you really serious about making your own chili bean paste? Let me tell you something before you decide:

The process will be messy and takes 40-60 days to complete. While the bean ferments, your kitchen will be filled with a horrible stink. Just hope your neighbor would not complain.

Assuming that you find all the right kinds of chilies and ingredients, your surroundings may or may not have the same kind of yeast to guarantee successful fermentation, and yeast is the key reason for the distinct flavors of chili bean pastes made in different regions.

I would suggest asking you friend in China to send the stuff than making it yourself.

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Hi CNLink. I appreciate what you are saying about the problems with making paste yourself, but if you could provide even one recipe it would help those of us who like to try things just for the sake of trying. Thanks.

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Sheepish:

Given your courage and inquisitive nature to go with the pig’s head, I will be happy to provide a receipt for the chili bean paste but it will take me a little time to translate the Chinese material I found.

Stay tuned, perhaps pig’s head with chili bean paste sauce is a good idea.

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Homemade sichuan style dou ban jiang (chili bean paste)

Disclaimer: the following receipt is based on the materials I found on the internet. I did not tried it myself (and have no intention to do so) so don’t hold me responsible if the result is undesirable.

Ingredients:

1. Fermented board bean 800gm

2. Chili 2000gm

3. 2 large sticks Fresh green pepper

4. 5 Star anise

5. Brown sugar 200gm

6. Chinese yellow wine 250cc

7. Salt 500gm

8. Garlic 200gm

9. Vegetable oil

Preparation:

Day 1

1. Finely chop chili and mix well with salt. Leave in a clean pot for 24 hours

2. Wash fermented board beans. Soak in distilled water for 24 hours to revitalize the yeast. Do not refrigerate. Do not use tap water as the fluorine in tap water will kill the yeast.

3. Lightly fry green pepper and star anise in a pen until aroma comes out. Grind into powder with a blender.

Day 2

4. By now the board bean should double in size. Drain the water and place the board beans on a clean towel to remove moisture.

5. Add minced garlic to the chili and salt mixture, cook to medium heat and let it cool down.

6. When chili is cooled sufficiently, transfer it to a clean container. Add dried board beans, brown sugar, pepper/star anise powder and yellow wine. Mix well.

7. Cover container with cloth and let the ingredients brew. Do not refrigerate.

8. Stir the ingredients every 1-2 days for the next 6-8 days.

Day 10

9. Check for bubbles and slime substances on the surface. The ingredients should look darker and this indicates successful first stage fermentation.

10. Cover the surface of the ingredients with 2 cm of vegetable oil to seal off oxygen supply. This will force the yeast into anaerobic respiration and start breaking down the sugar and protein in the board beans.

11. Tightly seal the cover of the container. Leave to brew for at least 3 weeks. Check progress every 5-6 days.

12. If everything goes as planned, the dou ban jiang will be ready in 35-40 days.

Note:It is important to keep the yeast alive. Do not use tap water and do not cook the fermented board beans. Do not refrigerate as yeast does not grow well in low temperature (you do not want the smell to infiltrate other items in the fridge anyway)

Edited by CNLink (log)
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Thanks CNLink. I think step 1 will be working out how to ferment broad beans. Having a read of Fuschia Dunlop's Sichuan Cooking she describes the process in Pixan with beans being held in clay bots of brine and stirred daily for up to 2 years. No hint of the brine make up though. If you happen to see any detail around that I'd be interested. Anyway, I better plant some broad beans, they're absurdly expensive in supermarkets here compared to the amount of beans you end up with after shelling them.

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Fuchsia Dunlops Sichuan Cookery is hands down my favourite chinese cookbook. Many of the recipes are old friends now. I had better plan some space in my allotment for a wealth of broad beans ;). As sheepish says they are not only expensive but usually starchy by the time they get to supermarkets.

I'm going to email Ms. Dunlop and see if she has any leads on this. Oh and btw Sheepish, I have a local supply of some amazingly potent Sichuan peppercorns and facing heaven chilli's. If you are interested, pm me.

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Sheepish: In the Chinese villages, board beans are spread out in a thin layer on a damp wooden board and put away from the sun. Yeast in the air will settle and grow on the board beans. This is how they prepare fermented board beans. The process will take from a few days to a month according to different sources. I guess the time difference is because of the different kinds local yeast.

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