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Hot bean paste


Sugar Toad
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I have some Lee Kum Kee, hot bean paste (Toban Djan). It seems tierd and whimpy to me; does anyone know of a better brand that is easy to find. I was wondering if anyone has had any of the chin's family recipe hot bean paste that they are always talking about on the Iron Chef? Is it in his book? Do I need to make my own to get the real deal? :wacko:

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I have some Lee Kum Kee, hot bean paste (Toban Djan).  It seems tierd and whimpy to me; does anyone know of a better brand that is easy to find. 

I just checked a small jar that has been in my refrig, for a long time. "Hsin Tung Yang" brand. It is plenty salty, but has no kick. I'm going to toss it.

I also checked an unopened jar of "Kimlan" that I've had a while --unopened. It is hot! I tasted some and started coughing!!

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Lee Kum Kee will be among the best you will find. Toban Jiang is not intended to scorch the palate, it is a flavouring condiment...as most sauces are meant to be. I am curious as to why everyone thinks that certain types/regional Chinese cuisines have to be so "hot" as to be inedible. Chinese food is, above all else, supposed to harmonious, flavourful and nuanceful. You can't get those characteristics with an overpowering, taste bud numbing presence of capsaicin :wacko: .

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Lee Kum Kee will be among the best you will find. Toban Jiang is not intended to scorch the palate, it is a flavouring condiment...as most sauces are meant to be. I am curious as to why everyone thinks that certain types/regional Chinese cuisines have to be so "hot" as to be inedible. Chinese food is, above all else, supposed to harmonious, flavourful and nuanceful. You can't get those characteristics with an overpowering, taste bud numbing presence of capsaicin :wacko: .

word.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Lee Kum Kee will be among the best you will find. Toban Jiang is not intended to scorch the palate, it is a flavouring condiment...as most sauces are meant to be. I am curious as to why everyone thinks that certain types/regional Chinese cuisines have to be so "hot" as to be inedible. Chinese food is, above all else,  supposed to harmonious, flavourful and nuanceful. You can't get those characteristics with an overpowering, taste bud numbing presence of capsaicin :wacko: .

Hear! Hear!

I want my taste sensors to be enlivened --- not deadened.

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Uh, I'm all for toban jiang, can't make ma po doufu without it, but just because someone wants something hotter doesn't mean their tastebuds are dead. What's inedible to you is just right to someone else. I live with someone who eats a ton of chillies. Something not spicey enough? He'll snack on a raw chilli while he eats it or slice up some red chillies and put them in soya to use as an additional condiment. His tastebuds don't get numb the way mine do...different strokes for different folks (and regions), you know?

Sugar Toad, I'm not sure what you're using your toban jiang for, but you might try layering chilli from different sources when you cook. For mapo, we use the toban, and then drizzle homemade chilli and sesame oil over the top and sprinkle with fresh red chillies and cilantro. It makes the dish a lot more complex than just adding more paste. Also, some of the hot bean pastes made with fermented soya beans instead of broad beans tend to be a little hotter, except for the ones from Taiwan, which won't be, and they tend to be sweeter. Thai ones are even hotter but will frequently have salted shrimp or fish in them. They remind me of a chilli condiment in a hakka restaurant I used to go to in SF, but I wouldn't use them in the things I use toban for. Making your own chilli sauces is pretty easy, we always have 2 or 3 kinds of sambals in our freezer, so you could definitely explore that route, or just start by making your own chilli oil.

regards,

trillium

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Uh, I'm all for toban jiang, can't make ma po doufu without it, but just because someone wants something hotter doesn't mean their tastebuds are dead.  What's inedible to you is just right to someone else.  I live with someone who eats a ton of chillies.  Something not spicey enough?  He'll snack on a raw chilli while he eats it or slice up some red chillies and put them in soya to use as an additional condiment.  His tastebuds don't get numb the way mine do...different strokes for different folks (and regions), you know?

Tell me about it! DH adds chili to his tabasco.

He met his match, one time, when we were fishing in the Yucatan. A Mayan chef made a tortilla soup with a broth to die for. He put a fresh habenero pepper on top, as a garnish. DH, not knowing what it was, picked it up, put it in his mouth, chewed and swallowed it. Shortly after, he turned to me and asked --"Was I supposed to eat that thing?" LOL! He really suffered!

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I am curious as to why everyone thinks that certain types/regional Chinese cuisines have to be so "hot" as to be inedible. Chinese food is, above all else, supposed to harmonious, flavourful and nuanceful. You can't get those characteristics with an overpowering, taste bud numbing presence of capsaicin

Too academic. I have eaten with folks in Sichuan who ask for small dishes of ground red chili powder in order to dip bites of their food. I've ordered and eaten mapo doufu with a novocaine-like coating of Sichuan pepper over the top. I've eaten hotpots with all sorts of twigs, berries, nuts, and other herbaceous detritus as aromatics, but have been so scorching hot that I have no doubt I missed the flavors they were supposed to impart. Ditto for jiaozi, their subtle flavors almost obliterated by dipping sauces friends have concocted for me. Peoples' palates operate on different planes (as has been stated) so it's also arguable that in order to really appreciate some types of regional Chinese cuisines, you have to develop a tolerance for the "overpowering...numbing presence of capsaicin" to find the other flavors...or maybe find a Cantonese restaurant instead.

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Some people put salt on everything -- even without tasting first. Those same people probably douse everything with soy, too. But that is their choice. So be it. I have friends who put chili on everything. I guess they have built up a tolerance, and need it.

I like Ma Po and Ants hot. When there is supposed to be charred chilis, I want to see them. I prefer Lan Chi Chili Paste with Garlic to be from a freshly opened jar.

I also want regional food to taste like the region. Subtle tastes delight me as much as anything. To the point that I don't always like dipping sauces.

There is a line in Chinese Gastronomy, in which the authors are talking about a Cream Stock. "The flavor cannot be simulated. Extraneous seasoning is unnecessary, except for a little salt at the end of the operation. Some prefer it without salt, leaving in the single flaw to show up its near-perfection." I never forget that line when I'm eating something that is bland ---- and is supposed to be bland.

The range of flavors, textures, and taste sensations are one of the things that make Chinese foods so interesting. I Love it all!!

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I guess this could be construed as a cultural issued. My Cantonese sensibilties are not so ingrained that they would deny me the pleasure of a zinging hot and spicey dish once in a while, but not as a regular part of my diet, and not so extreme. However, in all the philosophical dissertations on the preparation, serving and the eating of food as written by the "Old Guys" like Lin Yu Tang, Confucius, et al., one of the central philosophies espoused by them is balance, or harmony, if you will. You know, yin and yang, dark and light, male and female,and, hot and cold. Also, extremes should not be tolerated.

But then they may well have been writing these treatises for the more "civilized" :rolleyes: parts of the Chinese civilization, ie. the eastern, southern and central parts of China, regions that fell under the influence of the Imperial Court. I may be wrong in my assumption, but I had always detected a superior attitude of the Chinese from these regions towards the people of the western and the far northern frontiers (Szechuan and Manchuria). That sense of superiority extended to food preferences as they considered the food of the frontiers was somewhat "primitive". We now know that this is not the case as creative and resourceful people will always use what is readily at hand.

I have noticed though, that when people are introduced to anything new, whether it be music, literature, food, they take a liking to that which appeals to and makes an impact on their senses. It takes a bit more aculturation for them to appreciate the finer shades and nuances of the new discovery. Almost every young person takes an immediate liking to Led Zeppelin, but Bach and Beethoven requires more time.

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Just by chance I was making Ma Pao Tofu; I have since found a more suitable bean paste. It sounds to me like Ben needs to take a little culinary trip to my old stomping grounds, Beijing, where contrast and extremes are celebrated in food; and Szechwan peppercorns and chilies flow freely. I understand the Cantonese philosophies of delicate cooking and matching alike flavors; but that is only one philosophy and Chinese cooking has many.

P.S. when I lived in Beijing I found many a restaurant and dishes that would bring a tear to the eye of even my chili headed ass, heat the likes of witch I have never seen in the states. Chengdude is right.

Edited by Sugar Toad (log)
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The jars in my refrigerator are made by Koon Chun. They're pretty good, and quite readily available.

Years ago I used to like a hot bean sauce that came in small, bright blue cans (don't remember the name). I haven't seen these in years, but also haven't looked in Chinatown for them in years, either.

Also many years ago I played some concerts with a wonderful cellist named Ben Hong. I don't suppose you're the same person, but the Bach/Beethoven reference made me wonder!

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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Eric, no chance! I can only play chopsticks :biggrin: .

Toad, you are absolutely right in that there are many style of cuisine in China. I was speaking about my own preferences...Cantonese and Shanghai. Sometimes I wonder about the necessity for strong flavours as used by the Hunan, Beijing schools, as compared to the eastern, ie. Shanghai and southern Cantonese schools. Did the former group use strong flavours to cover up deficiencies in freshness just as the Europeans used spices starting 400 years ago and, opposingly did the Shanghai and Cantonese schools find that they had no need to do so because they were blessed with a benevolent and long growing season and bountiful seas nearby to supply freshness year round? Hmmm. :hmmm:

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I don't think the proverb: 'Be born in Suzhou, live in Hangzhou, eat in Guangzhou and die in Liuzhou' came about by accident. Anyone know the origin and how far back it goes?

Thank goodness for Chinese regional foods. All have historical reasons for their being. All are good. I appreciate them all, and delight in their differences. I don't have any preferences because I love them all for their own uniqueness.

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Eric, I think I might have some of the kind you are talking about, It is in a jar with mostly a bright blue lable and red lid. The only identifing English markings are "Har Har pickle food factory". I went to my favorite chinese groecry store and picked out 6 or 7 kinds of hot bean paste and asked one of the girls that has worked there a long time to show me the best one, and this is what she picked out. I like it better than the other, but you have to be careful about adding any more salt to your recipe or it will be to salty.

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  • 15 years later...
On 11/18/2003 at 3:14 PM, jo-mel said:

Some people put salt on everything -- even without tasting first. Those same people probably douse everything with soy, too. But that is their choice. So be it. I have friends who put chili on everything. I guess they have built up a tolerance, and need it.

I like Ma Po and Ants hot. When there is supposed to be charred chilis, I want to see them. I prefer Lan Chi Chili Paste with Garlic to be from a freshly opened jar.

I also want regional food to taste like the region. Subtle tastes delight me as much as anything. To the point that I don't always like dipping sauces.

There is a line in Chinese Gastronomy, in which the authors are talking about a Cream Stock. "The flavor cannot be simulated. Extraneous seasoning is unnecessary, except for a little salt at the end of the operation. Some prefer it without salt, leaving in the single flaw to show up its near-perfection." I never forget that line when I'm eating something that is bland ---- and is supposed to be bland.

The range of flavors, textures, and taste sensations are one of the things that make Chinese foods so interesting. I Love it all!!

 

Lan Chi brand "Garlic Chili Paste" is my all time favorite too. 

 

Re: your comment on the line about Chinese Gastronomy. Yes, A trained/experienced palate is able to taste ingredients for what they are without seasoning. Seasoning should only enhance, not take away from enjoying fresh, high quality ingredients that speak for themselves. Maybe that's the problem these days. Sauces can hide lesser quality, poorly cooked ingredients.

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