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There's bean sauce and there's bean sauce----


jo-mel
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I've used bean sauce for many years. Mostly Koon Chun brand. I know it is from brown/yellow beans, and that the sauce has bean pieces in it. The Ground Bean Sauce is almost the same but has a smooth texture and is supposedly made from inferior beans. It is also much saltier, so I rarely use it.

Regular Bean Sauce has been my choice and when I want some heat, I usually use Lan Chi brand Chili Bean Paste with Garlic (or chili peppers.)

Well, when the term Dou Ban Jiang" came up on these threads, I wondered what it was, as it sounded like a regular bean sauce, but might have some chilis in it as I gathered that it spiced up a dish.

So I did some buying of the different brands, and it is as pcbilly said --- it is very confusing.

豆 瓣 酱

辣 豆 瓣

员 骰 豆支

The first -- Dou Ban Jiang is on a Union Foods label , called Bean Paste, and is just beans and salt

Also the first -- 'Dou Ban Jiang' is under a Hsin Tung Yang label, called Soybean Paste but has Soy bean paste, chili, sugar, salt and spice.

The second --La Dou Ban, is Union Food label, called Hot Bean Paste. It has chili, bean, salt, vinegar, sesame oil in it. At least this one has the word hot - la -辣 - on the label.

The last - Yuan Shai Douchi is Koon Chun and has beans, flavorings and no heat. But I didn't expect it in this jar., but is called Bean Sauce, as the first two are. (Bean Sauce in English, but different Chinese characters.)

The term Dou Ban Jiang can either be hot or not, as these jars say.

I know that the terms paste and sauce are usually interchanged, so that is not a factor.

My question is this --- If I want to use Dou Ban Jiang, do I need to add chili, or should I just ignore it all and use my regular Koon Chun Bean paste and add chili if I want heat.

Maybe I should just read labels!

What brand do you all use for Dou Ban Jiang?

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I have 3 kinds of "bean sauce"...

Brown bean sauce with whole beans by Yeo's. I use this mainly to steam pork dishes.

Guilan Chili sauce, and Toban Djan by Lee Kum Kee. These I use for Mah po dofu, kung pao, and any other dish that reguires kick. :smile:

I probably use toban djan the most.

If I want spicy black bean garlic sauce, I just add chopped chilis to my black beans.

I can read the da#& labels 'cos the writing is too small.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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So------ 'bean sauce' for a bean flavor. This I've always done.

If I want 'bean sauce' with a 'kick', then I just use dou ban jing that has some sort of chili in the ingredients.

Then if I want a wallop, then I use the dou ban jiang and extra chili----- or I can use the plain bean sauce with a lot of chili?

I'll buy a jar of LKK for a taste test. I've never been a real fan of the label because they have so much sugar in their hoisin sauce. Koon Chun has 3 gms of sugar per Tb, and LKK has over 20 gms. Maybe their dou ban jiang is different.

I understand about the fine print! Sometimes it is dark ink on a dark label!!

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I just tasted some Chili Bean Sauce. It does taste like regular Brown Bean Sauce with chilies added. I suspect if you don't have it, just use Brown Bean Sauce + chilies. The mix could be a good substitute.

Chili Bean Sauce is an indispensible sauce for cooking northern style Chinese food. It is used in cooking many different dishes.

I think Dou Ban Jiang (Chili Bean Sauce) is too generic to favor a particular brand. I usually just pick whatever I see. It is not used as a condiment (too salty) so it probably won't matter much.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Jo-mel:

The problem here is that different parts of China use theses terms differently. This is not a problem for local Chinese people because they learn to cook from their family or and they buy local products.

But it is a problem people like us who are trying to learn by using different cookbooks and with different nomenclauture. So, let us look at how some of these cookbooks and manufactures use these terms.

Before we do that, let us define the broader categories these pastes belong to:

1. Soy Bean based paste 豆酱: 黄酱,大酱,京酱, 磨豉醬, 磨原豉/原磨豉or sweet bean paste, brown bean sauce/paste, soybean condiment and yellow bean sauce/paste.

2. Broad /Fava Bean based Paste蠶豆酱: 豆瓣酱 or chili bean paste/sauce, hot bean paste and Sichuan hot bean sauce/paste (but these names do not guarantee real Fava Bean)

I think the most confusing term is 豆瓣酱Toban Jiang.

It is original a paste from Pixian, Sichuan made from broad bean and chili and it really should only be use for such paste.

This is how Fuchsia Dunlop has used in her Sichuan cookbook - Land of Plenty , she defines 豆瓣酱 as chili bean paste on page 57. Notice that the chilliness is intrinsic part of the paste. Separately, she uses the term “sweet bean paste” for the non- spicy bean sauce as in dish like Jing Jiang rou si 京酱肉絲. (page 215).

However, most of the pastes from Taiwan and HK do not seem to follow this convention; they use 豆瓣酱 to describe SOY bean based pastes that sometimes have chili and sometimes don’t.

Cookbooks from Taiwan such as Wei-Chuan and Pei-Mei use 豆瓣酱 to describe regular SOY bean paste and 辣豆瓣酱 for spicy one.

From HK, manufacture such as Lee Kum Kee use mochi jiang 磨豉醬 for regular bean paste and 辣豆瓣醬for the chili one ( http://hk.lkk.com/product/product_details_c.asp?cat=4 ).

In Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook, She pretty much follows the HK nomenclatures except her 豆瓣醬 is a chili soy bean paste. (pg13).

Another name for soy bean paste is 磨原豉/原磨豉 which Irene Kuo uses on page 486 in her still wonderful Chinese cook book for English reader.

I do not know about员 骰 豆支.

So what should we do? I will read the label first, then consider your pastes' origin and also what school of Chinese cooking the cookbook belong to.

For western school style of cooking, I will use 豆瓣酱 from Sichuan (which I know is hard to find) or use 辣豆瓣醬 from HK or Taiwan. For Northern(Peking+) and Eastern School of cooking, I will use 黄酱 or 豆瓣醬.

For Southern School (Canton), I will use EXACTLY what Dejah or hzrt8w ARE using…

:biggrin::biggrin:

I am NOT a cook, this interpretation is a subjective and bookish one, NO real experience here.

I am hoping someone more knowledgeable will share their thoughts with us.

William

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[...] I think the most confusing term is 豆瓣酱Toban Jiang.

It is original a paste from Pixian, Sichuan made from broad bean and chili and it really should only be use for such paste.

This is how Fuchsia Dunlop has used in her Sichuan cookbook - Land of Plenty , she defines  豆瓣酱 as chili bean paste on page 57. Notice that the chilliness is intrinsic part of the paste.  Separately, she uses the term  “sweet bean paste”  for the non- spicy bean sauce as in dish like Jing Jiang rou si  京酱肉絲. (page 215). 

However,  most of the pastes from Taiwan and HK do not seem to follow this convention;  they use 豆瓣酱 to describe SOY bean based pastes that sometimes have chili and sometimes don’t.

[...] William

I so agree with you on the confusing nature of Douban Jiang (豆瓣酱). I'm fed up of buying ones from Taiwan or other places that don't taste right at all!! :sad:

And they make my Sichuan cooking taste funny.... :sad:

But I've also discovered the same with Sweet Flour paste ( Tianmian Jiang 甜麵醬 -i think). There's one from Taiwan (which was readily available - and let's face it, it's not the most easily obtainable 'jiang' around where I live) that, in recent years, has been moving more and more to practically a hoisin-like texture and flavour that it made any Zha Jiang Mian (炸獎麵) sauce taste really strange.... however, I have recently found the answer to this terrible problem...for all my Dongbei cooking with Tian Mian Jiang......I buy Korean!! :biggrin:

Honestly, there's this killer TianMian Jiang which is Korean (I can't read the label, but it comes in a box with a cartoon chef on the front - the box is brown), and it is Tian Mian Jiang on steroids, I swear!

It's really much more concentrated than any Chinese one I've come across, but in the right quanitites *does* make a lovely Jing jiang rou si, Zha jiang mian, etc...

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

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I so agree with you on the confusing nature of Douban Jiang (豆瓣酱). I'm fed up of buying ones from Taiwan or other places that don't taste right at all!! :sad:

And they make my Sichuan cooking taste funny.... :sad:

But I've also discovered the same with Sweet Flour paste ( Tianmian Jiang 甜麵醬 -i think). There's one from Taiwan (which was readily available - and let's face it, it's not the most easily obtainable 'jiang' around where I live) that, in recent years, has been moving more and more to practically a hoisin-like texture and flavour that it made any Zha Jiang Mian (炸獎麵) sauce taste really strange.... however, I have recently found the answer to this terrible problem...for all my Dongbei cooking with Tian Mian Jiang......I buy Korean!! :biggrin:

Honestly, there's this killer TianMian Jiang which is Korean (I can't read the label, but it comes in a box with a cartoon chef on the front - the box is brown), and it is Tian Mian Jiang on steroids, I swear!

It's really much more concentrated than any Chinese one I've come across, but in the right quanitites *does* make a lovely Jing jiang rou si, Zha jiang mian, etc...

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I am NOT a cook, this interpretation is a subjective and bookish one, NO real experience here.

I am hoping someone more knowledgeable will share their thoughts with us.

William

I'd hardly consider myself more knowledgeable, but I do cook, and that's the way I approach things after many conversations with co-workers from Sichuan and HK. I also reserve the phrase toban jiang for the Sichuan broad bean and chilli paste.

regards,

trillium

Edited by trillium (log)
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I was always under the impression that Tian Mian Jiang was like hoisin sauce.  Or is hoisin sauce, just tian mian jiang with more sugar?

Hi Seitch:

Nope, Tian Mian Jiang is made from fermented wheat flour use mostly in the northern dishs.

Hoi Sin Sauce is made from fermented soy bean and with flour added as thickener

found mostly in Cantonese style cooking.

Tian Mian Jiang use to be hard to get in the US, so many restaurants use Hoi Sin Sauce instead.

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I was always under the impression that Tian Mian Jiang was like hoisin sauce.  Or is hoisin sauce, just tian mian jiang with more sugar?

Hi Seitch:

Nope, Tian Mian Jiang is made from fermented wheat flour use mostly in the northern dishs.

Hoi Sin Sauce is made from fermented soy bean and with flour added as thickener

found mostly in Cantonese style cooking.

Tian Mian Jiang use to be hard to get in the US, so many restaurants use Hoi Sin Sauce instead.

Thanks for the clarification. My great uncle's family made these kinds of sauces when they were in China. I guess I got confused because he'd sort of ramble on about the sauces they made and in my hazy memory I made the connection of Tian Mian Jiang with Hoisin sauce. I did know that TMJ is fermented wheat flour but didn't know Hoisin is fermented from soybeans. Wish I'd listened more carefully to great uncle.

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I was always under the impression that Tian Mian Jiang was like hoisin sauce. Or is hoisin sauce, just tian mian jiang with more sugar?

Thanks for the clarification. My great uncle's family made these kinds of sauces when they were in China....

Seitch:

I just want to add that Tian Mian Jiang is the proper sauce to serve with Peking Duck, most of restaurant serving their version of the Peking Duck in this county using hoisin sauce or even wortst - plum sauce.

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trillium:

I am glad someone actually cooks agree with this approach. :smile:

I read some of your old class on Southern home-style dishes and the dishes look delicious , particular the one with chicken and salt fish in the sand pot.

William

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The original Peking recipes for Zha Jiang Mian/炸酱面 call for sweet bean paste黄酱/大酱 only, but many recipes from other parts of China use sweet flour past/甜面酱 instead.

What is interesting is that the Korean version of Zha Jiang Mian/炸酱面 uses Korean sweet bean paste/黄酱.

Are you sure that the Korean paste you have is actually sweet flour paste甜面酱 and not sweet bean paste黄酱 ?

Anyway, we can have another thread just on the sweet flour paste甜面酱 or/and Zha Jiang Mian/炸酱面  such as how the Korean version different from the Chinese ……….. :biggrin:

William

The eternal debate on Zha Jiang Mian :biggrin:

I actually don't like it as much when it's made in the traditional way in Beijing - especially when the sauce is served cold :sad: It just doesn't do it for me ......

I'm afraid my version of zha Jiang mian sauce is bastardized to my own tastes beyond belief**!!! :blush:

I don't think there's any bean in the Korean stuff (at least not on the ingredients to read...but most of it's in Korean!). I don't even know if it's for making Korean zhajiang mian - but I love it!

**I have even been known to add [shock! gasp! horror!] prawns to my sauce

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

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I hope you don't think I am trying to be a food snob here; I mention the Peking recipe because I have never taste the original one and always wonder what it might taste like.

You are right, many people find the original Jiang mian too salty, oily and that is probably why many substitute or mix it with sweet flour paste.

People eat food for the pleasure it brings them, you are not "bastardizing" anything. You are simply eating it the way you enjoy it.

I guess the pleasure for me in tracing the history of these dishes to its original form is that it brings me closer to my cultural heritage. :wub:

Of course, I love to eat too :raz:

Ohhhh no! I'm not thinking anything of the sort :shock:

:smile: and I TOTALLY agree with you on the 'authentic sauce' taste :wink:

I'm really interested in food research (last year I even helped with a conference on Food and Religion in Ancient China ... :rolleyes: ) But, boy! I wouldn't want to eat most of the really traditional things (like for this month, according to the LiJi, the emperor is only s'posed to eat dog meat and millet (as I recall...). YUCK!

Anyway, to get back to the all-important sauce terminology - I went and looked at the plastic package of sauce from Korean....it does say "Sweet Bean Paste"!!! Whoosh - it does taste very un-beany and like the Tian Mian Jiang I've had in China!

Anyway, last night it got neglected in favour of the Kojujang for sauce....but I will use it again and really test the taste! :biggrin: Yum!

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

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I'm really interested in food research (last year I even helped with a conference on Food and Religion in Ancient China ... :rolleyes: ) But, boy! I wouldn't want to eat most of the really traditional things (like for this month, according to the LiJi  ...........

Fengyi:

LiJi - The Book of Rites.

Now, that is tracing Chinese food back to its origin! :biggrin:

Enjoy.

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trillium:

I am glad someone actually cooks agree with this approach.  :smile:

I read some of your old class on Southern home-style dishes and the dishes look delicious , particular the one with chicken and salt fish in the sand pot.

William

I'm glad you think so. Back when I wrote that, the forum was more about NY-style take out type food and I wanted people to learn a little about Southern home-style food. These days, the pendulum has swung, and it seems like that's all there is in the forum! Not that I'm complaining, I love seeing how people do the same dishes we do, but differently (you'll notice I keep saying not to use boneless skinless chicken breasts...hee hee), or learning about new dishes.

It's funny that you like the looks of the sapo dish, I think that is the only one I didn't get any feedback on at all, and it was my favorite. I was proud of it because I had to reverse engineer it from eating it at a Hakka person's house (they moved back to Taiwan and we couldn't get the recipe!).

My favorite part about talking about Chinese food is learning how much variation there is from region to region. I am influenced by my-Hokkien-by-way-of-Singapore spouse, and a couple of best friends from Canton by way of HK and Malaysia. At work, most co-workers are from the north and west. They were quick to correct some of the "southern" biases they felt I had when we'd talk about food (now I don't call anything north of Guangdong "northern"!).

regards,

trillium

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It's funny that you like the looks of the sapo dish, I think that is the only one I didn't get any feedback on at all, and it was my favorite.  I was proud of it because I had to reverse engineer it ....

My favorite part about talking about Chinese food is learning how much variation there is from region to region.....

regards,

trillium

Trillium:

Reverse engineer the dish! There must have been many interesting failures alone the way. :biggrin:

Agree, as we see it here on the variation of bean pastes that although all Chinese cooks share similar ingredients; different regions use and make them in many different ways.

This diversity is what makes life interesting.

William

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But, boy! I wouldn't want to eat most of the really traditional things (like for this month, according to the LiJi, the emperor is only s'posed to eat dog meat and millet (as I recall...). YUCK!

Yeah, I know what you mean. Millet can taste pretty awful.

Erg! I do agree (and am not joking) that dog meat is much nicer than millet.

My manchurian grandmother used to make me eat millet gruel for breakfast when I lived with her........errrrgggghhh! I loathed it with a passion!

I would always try and push it around the bowl hoping against hope that it would somehow disappear.....

But a nice dog meat chile stir-fry, I can do :raz:

Edited by Fengyi (log)

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

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think the little Brown Bean Sauce (磨原豉) has received very little recognition for its place in Chinese cooking. Like a backend worker, it does its grunt work and the credits all go to the frontend Soy Sauce and Oyster Sauce. (Same fate for Nam Yu (Red fermented bean curds))

I just made a Cantonese clay pot dish with roast pork, fried tofu and oyster. Used some whole garlic and Brown Bean Sauce to start. Dashedin ShaoHsing wine. Then added the roast pork, ginger slices and green onion. Added the tofu, and oyster (coated and fried first), chicken broth and water, plus oyster sauce and soy sauce and sugar to braise for 10-15 minutes. The result was excellent. Just a teaspoon of Brown Bean Sauce does make a difference.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I just made a Cantonese clay pot dish with roast pork, fried tofu and oyster.  Used some whole garlic and Brown Bean Sauce to start.  Dashedin ShaoHsing wine.  Then added the roast pork, ginger slices and green onion.  Added the tofu, and oyster (coated and fried first), chicken broth and water, plus oyster sauce and soy sauce and sugar to braise for 10-15 minutes.  The result was excellent.  Just a teaspoon of Brown Bean Sauce does make a difference.

Do I smell a future pictorial? :biggrin:

sand pot dishes are great for cold weather.

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