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Chinese Soybean Paste Recipe: How to Make It at Home

If you're a fan of Chinese cuisine, you've probably come across soybean paste. This versatile ingredient is used in many recipes and can add a unique depth of flavour to your dishes. Whether you're a seasoned cook or just starting out, learning how to use soybean paste is a great way to expand your culinary horizons.

A wok sizzles with garlic and ginger, as soybeans and wheat flour simmer in water, creating a thick, savory paste

Chinese soybean paste, also known as dòubàn jiàng, is made from fermented soybeans. It comes in a variety of types and variations, each with its own distinctive flavour. Some are sweet, while others are spicy or salty. Understanding the differences between these types of soybean paste is key to making the most of this ingredient in your cooking.

If you're looking to try your hand at cooking with soybean paste, there are many recipes to choose from. From stir-fries to stews, soybean paste can add a rich, savoury flavour to a wide range of dishes. And if you're feeling adventurous, you can even experiment with adding seafood to your soybean paste recipes. Shrimp, scallops, and squid are all great options for adding a delicious twist to your favourite dishes.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese soybean paste is a versatile ingredient that can add a unique depth of flavour to your dishes.
  • Understanding the different types and variations of soybean paste is key to making the most of this ingredient in your cooking.
  • Soybean paste can be used in a wide range of dishes, and adding seafood can be a great way to experiment with new flavours.

Understanding Chinese Soybean Paste

A bowl of Chinese soybean paste sits on a wooden table, surrounded by ingredients like ginger, garlic, and green onions. A wok sizzles on the stove, ready for cooking

Soybean paste is an essential ingredient in Chinese cooking, particularly in Sichuan, Beijing, and Guangdong Province. It is made from fermented soybeans and wheat flour. The paste is salty and has a rich, umami flavour that can enhance the taste of any dish.

Fermentation is the key process in making soybean paste. The soybeans are soaked, cooked, and then mixed with wheat flour and water. The mixture is then left to ferment for several months, during which time the soybeans break down into a paste. The longer the fermentation process, the deeper the flavour of the paste.

Soybean paste is a versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of dishes. It is commonly used in stir-fries, stews, soups, and marinades. It pairs well with meat, vegetables, and seafood. Speaking of seafood, you can also use seafood in your soybean paste recipe. For example, you can add shrimp or crab meat to your soybean paste sauce to give it an extra seafood flavour.

Pixian soybean paste, which comes from Sichuan Province, is one of the most famous types of soybean paste in China. It has a distinct spicy flavour and is often used in Sichuan cuisine. If you prefer a milder flavour, you can use sweet bean paste, which is made from fermented soybeans but has a sweeter taste than regular soybean paste.

In summary, soybean paste is an essential ingredient in Chinese cooking, and it can add depth and flavour to any dish. Whether you're making a stir-fry, stew, or soup, soybean paste is a great condiment to have on hand. So, why not try making your own soybean paste recipe today and experiment with adding different ingredients like seafood to make it uniquely yours?

Types and Variations

A table displays various types of Chinese soybean paste in jars and bowls, showcasing their different colors and textures

If you are looking to make a Chinese soybean paste recipe, it is important to understand the different types and variations of soybean paste that are commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Here are some of the most popular types of soybean paste:

Doubanjiang

Doubanjiang, also known as spicy bean paste, is a fermented paste made from broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice, and various spices. It has a pungent, salty, and spicy flavor, and it is commonly used in Sichuan cuisine to add heat and depth of flavor to dishes like mapo tofu and kung pao chicken.

If you are looking to add some seafood to your dish, you could try adding some shrimp or scallops to your mapo tofu or kung pao chicken. The seafood will add a slightly sweet and briny flavor that pairs well with the spicy and salty doubanjiang.

Sweet Bean Sauce

Sweet bean sauce, also known as sweet soybean paste, is a thick, dark brown sauce made from fermented soybeans, wheat flour, sugar, and salt. It has a sweet and savory flavor and is commonly used in Northern Chinese cuisine to add flavor to dishes like Peking duck and moo shu pork.

If you are looking to add some seafood to your dish, you could try using some crab or lobster in your Peking duck or moo shu pork. The sweetness of the sweet bean sauce will complement the delicate flavor of the seafood.

Yellow Soybean Paste

Yellow soybean paste, also known as huang dou jiang, is a thick, salty paste made from fermented soybeans. It has a rich umami flavor and is commonly used in Chinese cuisine to add depth of flavor to dishes like stir-fries and stews.

If you are looking to add some seafood to your dish, you could try using some clams or mussels in your stir-fry or stew. The briny flavor of the seafood will complement the salty and savory flavor of the yellow soybean paste.

Spicy Bean Paste

Spicy bean paste, also known as la doubanjiang, is a spicy and salty paste made from fermented broad beans, soybeans, and chili peppers. It is commonly used in Sichuan cuisine to add heat and flavor to dishes like dan dan noodles and hot pot.

If you are looking to add some seafood to your dish, you could try using some fish or squid in your dan dan noodles or hot pot. The mild flavor of the seafood will balance out the spiciness of the spicy bean paste.

Overall, the type of soybean paste you choose to use in your Chinese recipes will depend on your personal taste preferences and the specific dish you are making. However, by understanding the different types and variations of soybean paste, you can add depth of flavor and complexity to your Chinese cooking.

Cooking with Soybean Paste

A wok sizzles as soybean paste is stirred in with garlic, ginger, and green onions. Steam rises as the savory aroma fills the kitchen

Soybean paste is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are a few recipes to get you started:

Mapo Tofu

Mapo tofu is a popular Sichuan dish that features tofu, diced pork, and a spicy sauce made with soybean paste and chili bean paste. The dish is typically served over rice and garnished with green onions.

To make mapo tofu, you will need:

  • 1 block of firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 pound of diced pork
  • 2 tablespoons of soybean paste
  • 2 tablespoons of chili bean paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • Green onions, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorns and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the diced pork and stir-fry until browned.
  4. Add the soybean paste and chili bean paste and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the tofu and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Mix the cornstarch and water together to form a slurry. Add the slurry to the wok and stir until the sauce thickens.
  8. Garnish with green onions and serve over rice.

Twice Cooked Pork

Twice cooked pork is a classic Sichuan dish that features sliced pork belly, vegetables, and a sauce made with soybean paste and fermented black beans. The dish is typically served over rice.

To make twice cooked pork, you will need:

  • 1 pound of sliced pork belly
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of soybean paste
  • 2 tablespoons of fermented black beans
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Instructions:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, and fermented black beans and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the sliced pork belly and stir-fry until browned.
  4. Add the red and green bell peppers and onion and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the soybean paste and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  7. Mix the cornstarch and water together to form a slurry. Add the slurry to the wok and stir until the sauce thickens.
  8. Serve over rice.

Fried Sauce Noodles

Fried sauce noodles, also known as zha jiang mian, is a popular Beijing dish that features noodles, diced pork, and a sauce made with soybean paste, hoisin sauce, and other seasonings. The dish is typically served with sliced cucumbers and bean sprouts.

To make fried sauce noodles, you will need:

  • 1 pound of fresh noodles
  • 1/2 pound of diced pork
  • 4 tablespoons of soybean paste
  • 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • Sliced cucumbers and bean sprouts (for garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions and set aside.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the diced pork and stir-fry until browned.
  5. Add the soybean paste, hoisin sauce, sugar, and water and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Serve the sauce over the noodles and garnish with sliced cucumbers and bean sprouts.

Braised Dishes

Soybean paste can also be used to add depth and richness to braised dishes. Try adding a tablespoon or two to your favourite beef, chicken, or vegetable stew for a flavour boost.

If you want to incorporate seafood into your soybean paste recipe, you could try adding shrimp

Buying and Storing Tips

A hand reaching for a jar of Chinese soybean paste on a grocery store shelf, then placing it in a pantry next to other Asian condiments

When it comes to buying and storing Chinese soybean paste, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your purchase:

Buying Tips

You can purchase Chinese soybean paste in any Chinese grocery store or online. If you're not sure which brand to choose, ask the store clerk for a recommendation. Some popular brands include Lee Kum Kee, Koon Chun, and Lao Gan Ma. You can also find it on Amazon or at specialty shops like Mala Market.

Storing Tips

Once you've opened your soybean paste, it's important to store it properly to ensure it stays fresh. Keep it in the refrigerator in a resealable jar or container. This will help prevent it from drying out or developing mold.

If you're not going to be using your soybean paste right away, you can also freeze it. Simply transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to six months.

Seafood Suggestion

If you're looking to add some extra flavour to your soybean paste recipe, consider adding seafood. Shrimp, scallops, and squid are all great options that pair well with the salty, umami flavour of soybean paste. Simply sauté the seafood in a bit of oil before adding it to your recipe.

Enhancing Flavours and Substitutions

A wooden spoon stirs Chinese soybean paste in a sizzling wok, releasing aromatic flavors. Ingredients like ginger and garlic sit nearby for potential substitutions

To enhance the flavour of your Chinese soybean paste recipe, you can add a few ingredients to the dish. Garlic and sesame oil are great options to add depth and richness to the flavour. If you prefer a bit of spice, you can add chili oil or chili paste to give it a kick. You can also add green beans to the recipe to give it a bit of crunch.

When it comes to substitutions, there are a few options available. If you don't have soybean paste, you can use miso paste instead. Miso paste has a similar flavour profile and is a great alternative. You can also use hoisin sauce or sweet bean sauce in place of soybean paste. These sauces have a sweet flavour that can add a unique taste to your dish.

If you want to add a bit of umami to your dish, you can use a seasoning called sodium nucleotide. This seasoning is often added to soybean paste to enhance its flavour. You can also use soy sauce, which is a staple ingredient in Chinese cuisine. It adds a salty flavour to the dish and is often referred to as the "soul of Sichuan cuisine."

For vegetarians, you can use vegetable broth instead of chicken or beef broth. This will give your dish a rich flavour without using any meat-based products. If you want to add seafood to your recipe, you can use shrimp or scallops. These seafood options pair well with soybean paste and can give your dish a unique taste.

In summary, enhancing the flavour of your Chinese soybean paste recipe is simple. By adding garlic, sesame oil, chili oil, or green beans, you can add depth and richness to the dish. You can also use miso paste, hoisin sauce, or sweet bean sauce as substitutions. Adding soy sauce or sodium nucleotide can give your dish a salty or umami flavour. Finally, using vegetable broth or seafood can give your dish a unique taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

A bowl of Chinese soybean paste surrounded by ingredients and cooking utensils on a kitchen counter

What's the best way to incorporate soybean paste into a stir-fry?

Soybean paste is a versatile ingredient that can be added to stir-fries to enhance the umami flavour of the dish. The best way to incorporate soybean paste into a stir-fry is to first sauté your protein and vegetables, then add a spoonful of soybean paste and stir until it is evenly distributed. You can also mix the soybean paste with a bit of water to create a sauce that can be poured over the stir-fry.

Can you give me a simple method for making Zha Jiang Mian?

Zha Jiang Mian is a popular Chinese noodle dish that incorporates soybean paste. To make it, cook your noodles according to package instructions. In a separate pan, sauté diced pork belly, onions, garlic, and yellow soybean paste until fragrant. Add in diced vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, and bean sprouts, and stir until everything is well combined. Serve the sauce over the noodles and garnish with chopped scallions.

What dishes pair well with soybean paste?

Soybean paste pairs well with a variety of dishes, including stir-fries, soups, and stews. It is particularly delicious when used in braised dishes, as it adds a rich, savoury flavour. Seafood dishes such as shrimp stir-fry and fish stews can also benefit from the addition of soybean paste.

What's the difference between Chinese soybean paste and Korean Jia Jiang Mian?

Chinese soybean paste and Korean Jia Jiang Mian are similar in that they are both made from fermented soybeans. However, Korean Jia Jiang Mian is typically spicier and sweeter than Chinese soybean paste. Additionally, Korean Jia Jiang Mian often includes other ingredients such as gochujang (Korean chili paste) and sugar.

How do I choose a good soybean paste for cooking?

When choosing a soybean paste for cooking, look for a brand that uses high-quality ingredients and has a rich, deep flavour. Some popular brands include Lee Kum Kee and Koon Chun. If possible, opt for a paste that is made from non-GMO soybeans and has no added preservatives.

What are some creative uses for soybean paste in everyday recipes?

Soybean paste can be used to add flavour to a variety of dishes, including marinades, dressings, and dips. Try mixing it with honey and rice vinegar to create a sweet and savoury dressing for salads, or use it as a marinade for grilled meats and vegetables. You can also mix soybean paste with mayonnaise to create a delicious dip for vegetables or chips. For seafood lovers, soybean paste can be used to make a flavourful sauce for grilled shrimp or scallops.