Black bean sauce is a chinese food ingredient used in many chinese recipes. Not made of the Latin American black turtle bean (which is the main bean I write about on this website), black bean sauce is actually made of fermented and salted soybeans. You can buy these fermented soybeans as-is; they are called douchi (or sometimes just (fermented black beans, black beans, or salted beans). However, they are not as convenient for adding to recipes as black bean sauce is. For someone who just wants to try out using this flavour in their dishes, I would recommend getting black bean sauce.
The flavour of fermented black beans, and therefore of black bean sauce, is incredibly rich, savoury, and musky. It has a lot of “umami” flavour, the fifth flavour which scientists have identified as being recognised on the tongue. Umami is described as “savoury” or “meaty”, and is abundant in meat. For this reason, people seeking to eliminate or reduce meat from their diet find umami foods such as black bean sauce invaluable. Just a little of this in your food can greatly help to reduce meat cravings.
You can create a delicious dish very easily by stir-frying a selection of vegetables with some firm tofu. The firm tofu gives us the texture of meat – but not the flavour. What then? Add some black bean sauce, of course! Add a tablespoon of black bean sauce to your mixture and stir well. The result will be very satisfying and “meaty”.
For extra umami flavour, add some shitake mushrooms to your vegetable mix as well. This combination will prove to any convinced meat-eater that lots of meat is not necessary for food to taste rich, savoury, and good.
Be careful with black bean sauce – its flavour is very rich. Think of it as comparable to garlic. Don’t make the mistake of adding too much of it to your dishes – they will be inedible.
Black bean sauce makes an excellent marinade, too. Use it on tofu or vegetables before barbequeing or baking with a little oil. You can also make hummus with some added black bean sauce and a little ginger. This extra flavour will make your dip very unique and delicious!
You can make your own black bean sauce at home. Take some fermented black beans (douchi), and boil them in a little vegetable stock with some garlic. Black bean stock will work well, even though we are talking about a different sort of black bean.
Blend a teaspoon of corn starch (also known as corn flour; the very light, powdery kind) with a little liquid in a cup. This should prevent lumps forming. Now pour the starch-liquid into the beans and garlic. Now the sauce will thicken.
You can add a bit of soy sauce and a bit of sugar to the mix, too. Now mash or blend the beans, or leave as is for a lumpy sauce. This homemade black bean sauce is as good as anything you buy in a shop!