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Homemade Chinese Soybean Paste Recipe: A Guide to Authentic Soybean Paste at Home

Authentic Chinese soybean paste can easily be made at home and is a crucial ingredient in Chinese cuisine, especially in provinces like Sichuan, Beijing, and Guangdong. This paste, made from fermented soybeans and wheat flour, boasts a savoury, salty taste that adds depth to a wide range of dishes. Whether you're making noodles, stir-fries, or stews, soybean paste can take your cooking to the next level, being an essential component in Beijing's famous Zha Jiang Mian.

A bowl of soybean paste mixed with water, sugar, and salt. A spoon stirs the ingredients, creating a thick and smooth consistency

If you're interested in trying your hand at cooking with soybean paste, there are a variety of recipes available. Some popular dishes include Beijing Soy Paste Noodles, which features diced pork belly fried in leeks, onions, garlic, yellow soybean paste, and/or sweet wheat paste, as well as cucumbers, carrots, bean sprouts, green beans, pressed tofu, fried egg, and soybeans. Another popular dish is Zha Jiang Mian, which is made with yellow soybean paste, pork mince, fresh mushrooms, and a variety of other ingredients.

Making your own soybean paste is also an option, although it requires a bit of time and effort. However, it can be a rewarding experience, and you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you made the paste yourself. There are also a variety of substitutes and variations available if you don't have access to soybean paste or prefer a different flavour.

Key Takeaways

  • Soybean paste is a staple ingredient in Chinese cooking and is used in a variety of dishes, including noodles, stir-fries, and stews.
  • There are a variety of recipes available for cooking with soybean paste, including Beijing Soy Paste Noodles and Zha Jiang Mian.
  • Making your own soybean paste is an option, and there are also substitutes and variations available if you don't have access to soybean paste or prefer a different flavour.

The Basics of Soybean Paste

A bowl of soybeans being mashed into a paste, with a wooden spoon and a small amount of water being added

Understanding Soybean Paste

Soybean paste, also known as dòubàn jiàng, is a staple ingredient in Chinese cooking. It is made from fermented soybeans and wheat flour, giving it a rich, salty umami flavour that can enhance the taste of any dish. Soybean paste is used as a base condiment in many Chinese recipes, including braised dishes and soups.

One of the most popular types of soybean paste is the yellow soybean paste, also known as huang dou jiang. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavour that is perfect for adding depth to dishes without overpowering them. Another popular type is the spicy bean paste, or là dòubàn jiàng, which is made with chili peppers and has a spicy kick.

Types of Chinese Soybean Paste

There are several types of soybean paste used in Chinese cooking, each with its own unique flavour and texture. Some of the most common types include:

  • Yellow Soybean Paste: This is the most basic and widely used type of soybean paste. It has a smooth texture and a mild, slightly sweet flavour that is perfect for adding depth to dishes.

  • Spicy Bean Paste: Made with chili peppers, this paste has a spicy kick that adds heat and flavour to dishes.

  • Sweet Bean Sauce: This paste is made from fermented soybeans and has a sweet, rich flavour that is perfect for marinades and glazes.

  • Hoisin Sauce: This is a thick, dark sauce made from soybeans, sugar, vinegar, and garlic. It has a sweet, salty flavour and is often used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls and other appetizers.

When cooking with soybean paste, it is important to note that a little goes a long way. Start with a small amount and add more as needed to achieve the desired flavour.

If you're looking to add some seafood to your soybean paste recipe, try using shrimp or scallops. The sweet, salty flavour of soybean paste pairs perfectly with the delicate flavour of seafood, creating a delicious and flavourful dish.

Cooking with Soybean Paste

A pot simmers on a stove, filled with a rich, brown soybean paste. Steam rises as the savory aroma fills the kitchen. Ingredients surround the pot, ready to be added to the flavorful dish

Soybean paste is a versatile ingredient used in many Chinese recipes for its rich, salty, and slightly sweet flavour. Here are some ways to incorporate soybean paste into your cooking.

Incorporating Soybean Paste in Recipes

Soybean paste can be used in a variety of recipes such as soups, stir-fries, and noodle dishes. It pairs well with pork, tofu, beef, chicken, and seafood.

For example, you can use soybean paste to make a delicious Mapo Tofu. This spicy Sichuan dish is made with ground pork, tofu, and soybean paste. You can also use soybean paste in Twice Cooked Pork, a classic Sichuan dish made with sliced pork belly, vegetables, and soybean paste.

Soybean Paste as a Seasoning

Soybean paste can also be used as a seasoning for rice and vegetables. Simply mix a small amount of soybean paste with rice or stir-fried vegetables to add flavour.

Popular Dishes Featuring Soybean Paste

One of the most popular dishes featuring soybean paste is Zha Jiang Mian, a Beijing-style noodle dish. The sauce is made with soybean paste, sweet bean paste (or hoisin), soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and water. You can add vegetables, pork, or seafood to the dish for added flavour.

Another popular dish is Beijing Soy Paste Noodles, which is similar to Zha Jiang Mian but uses a different type of noodle. You can also add vegetables, pork, or seafood to this dish.

If you're looking to incorporate seafood into your soybean paste recipe, you can use shrimp or other seafood in stir-fries or noodle dishes. For example, you can make a shrimp and vegetable stir-fry with soybean paste sauce or add shrimp to your Zha Jiang Mian for a seafood twist.

Making Your Own Soybean Paste

A hand stirring a pot of fermenting soybeans, with a hint of steam rising from the mixture. Ingredients like salt and water are nearby

Homemade Soybean Paste Recipe

If you're looking to make your own soybean paste at home, it's actually quite simple. The basic ingredients you'll need are soybeans, water, salt, and wheat flour. To add some depth to the flavour, you can also add seafood such as shrimp or anchovies.

Here's a simple recipe to get you started:

  • Soak 1kg of soybeans in water for 24 hours.
  • Drain the soybeans and grind them into a fine paste.
  • Mix the soybean paste with 1kg of salt and 500g of wheat flour.
  • Add 2L of water to the mixture and stir well.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large jar and cover it with a cloth.
  • Leave the jar in a warm place for 6 months to ferment.

During the fermentation process, you'll need to check on the paste regularly and stir it occasionally. Once the paste has fermented, you can strain it to remove any solids and transfer it to a clean jar for storage.

The Fermentation Process

The fermentation process is what gives soybean paste its unique flavour and texture. During fermentation, the salt and wheat flour help to create an environment that encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria break down the soybeans and create a rich, savoury flavour.

To ensure a successful fermentation, it's important to keep the paste in a warm, dark place. You should also check on the paste regularly to make sure it's not drying out or developing any mould.

In conclusion, making your own soybean paste is a fun and rewarding process that allows you to create a unique and flavourful condiment. With a little patience and some basic ingredients, you can make a delicious homemade doenjang that's perfect for adding depth to your stir-fries, stews, and soups. Don't be afraid to experiment with different ingredients to find the perfect flavour for your taste.

Storing and Preserving Soybean Paste

Soybean paste being sealed in a glass jar, with a label on it, placed in a cool, dark pantry for storage and preservation

When it comes to storing soybean paste, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure it stays fresh and free from contamination. Here are some tips to help you store and preserve your soybean paste effectively.

Refrigeration and Shelf Life

Soybean paste should be stored in the refrigerator after opening to extend its shelf life. The paste can be stored in plastic packets or resealable jars, but make sure to keep it tightly sealed to prevent air exposure. Soybean paste can last for up to 6 months in the refrigerator, but it's best to use it within 3 months to ensure its quality.

Avoiding External Contamination

To prevent external contamination, make sure to use a clean spoon or utensil when scooping out the paste. Avoid touching the paste with your fingers or using a dirty spoon as this can introduce bacteria and other harmful microorganisms into the paste.

If you're looking to add some seafood to your soybean paste recipe, you can try adding prawns or squid. These seafood options complement the umami flavour of soybean paste and can add a unique twist to your dish. When adding seafood to your recipe, make sure to cook it thoroughly to prevent any foodborne illnesses.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your soybean paste stays fresh and safe to use in your recipes.

Substitutes and Variations

A bowl of soybean paste, surrounded by various ingredients like garlic, ginger, and green onions. A wok sits on a stove, with a chef's knife and cutting board nearby

When making a soybean paste recipe, there are a few substitutes and variations you can consider to add some variety to your dish. Here are some alternative ingredients and regional variations to try out:

Alternative Ingredients

If you can't find soybean paste or want to try something different, there are a few substitutes you can use. Miso is a Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans, which has a similar umami flavour to soybean paste. Another option is sweet bean sauce, which is made from fermented wheat flour and soybeans and has a sweet and salty taste. Oyster sauce is another alternative that can be used in certain recipes.

Regional Variations

Different regions in China have their own variations of soybean paste. For example, in Sichuan, la doubanjiang is a spicy bean sauce made from broad beans and chili peppers. It is commonly used in Sichuan cuisine to add some heat to dishes like mapo tofu. In Guangdong province, sweet soybean paste is a popular ingredient in dishes like char siu pork.

Another regional variation is doenjang, a Korean soybean paste that is darker and has a stronger flavour than Chinese soybean paste. It is often used in Korean dishes like kimchi jjigae and bibimbap.

If you want to add some seafood to your soybean paste recipe, consider using shrimp or scallops. These can be added to stir-fries or stews for some extra protein and flavour. For example, in Sichuan, seafood hotpot is a popular dish that uses la doubanjiang and a variety of seafood like shrimp, scallops, and fish.

Overall, there are many ways to experiment with soybean paste and add some variety to your dishes. Try out some of these substitutes and regional variations to find your favourite flavour combinations.

Frequently Asked Questions

A bowl of soybean paste sits on a wooden table with Chinese characters in the background. A pair of chopsticks rests beside the bowl

What's a simple way to make Chinese soybean paste at home?

Making Chinese soybean paste at home is a simple process that requires only a few ingredients. You can use fermented soybeans, wheat flour, salt, and water to make the paste. The ingredients are mixed together and allowed to ferment for a few days. After fermentation, the mixture is cooked and blended to form a smooth paste. You can also add sugar or honey to the paste to give it a sweet taste.

Can you share a traditional fermented soybean paste recipe?

Yes, a traditional fermented soybean paste recipe involves fermenting cooked soybeans with a mixture of wheat flour, salt, and water. The mixture is then left to ferment for several months, during which time the soybeans break down and develop a rich, umami flavour. The fermented soybeans are then mashed into a paste, which can be used in a variety of Chinese dishes.

What's the best method for incorporating soybean paste into Chinese dishes?

Soybean paste is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many Chinese dishes. One of the best ways to incorporate soybean paste into a dish is to use it as a base for a sauce. You can mix soybean paste with other ingredients such as garlic, ginger, and chilli to create a flavourful sauce that can be used in stir-fries, noodle dishes, and soups.

How does Chinese soybean paste differ from Korean soybean paste noodles?

Chinese soybean paste is made from fermented soybeans, wheat flour, and salt. It has a salty, umami flavour and is often used as a base for sauces. Korean soybean paste noodles, on the other hand, are made from a mixture of soybean paste, chilli paste, and other ingredients. The noodles have a spicy, tangy flavour and are often served cold.

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

Soybean paste can be used in a variety of ways in everyday cooking. You can mix it with honey or sugar to make a sweet glaze for meat or vegetables. You can also use it as a marinade for fish or seafood. For example, you can marinate prawns in soybean paste and then grill them for a delicious and flavourful dish.

What are the main differences between miso and Chinese soybean paste?

Miso and Chinese soybean paste are both made from fermented soybeans, but they have some differences. Miso is a Japanese condiment that is made from soybeans, rice or barley, and salt. It has a milder flavour than Chinese soybean paste and is often used in soups and marinades. Chinese soybean paste, on the other hand, has a stronger, saltier flavour and is often used as a base for sauces.

Note: You can use seafood like prawns or fish in your soybean paste recipe to give it a unique taste. For example, you can add prawns to your soybean paste sauce and serve it with noodles or rice for a delicious seafood dish.