Fermented Chinese Black Beans are naturally gluten free and their unique taste make them a special ingredient that’s always in my pantry for many Asian dishes I love. They go by many different names in recipes so if they’re new for you a bit of an explanation will be helpful.
Black Turtle Beans
First off, Chinese black beans are not the black beans, sometimes called black turtle beans, used in Latin American, Mexican and Southwestern cuisines. These black beans, whether canned or dried, are used in soups and salads, dips and salsas, rice dishes, chile and any kind of wrap from burritos to quesadillas. I cook with them but not in Asian cuisine. This post is not about those black turtle beans.
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Fermented Black Beans, Salted Black Beans and Preserved Black Beans
Buying and Storing Chinese Black Beans
Chinese black beans have a complex, pungent flavour that is unmistakable. They’re dried, black soybeans and the ones I buy are the Yang Jiang brand (in the yellow box) as shown in the photo. They use salt in the process of fermentation as a way to preserve them; so technically all of those names make sense.
If you simply want to cook with them you just need to go look for this brand. It has never changed in the thirty years I’ve been using them and I can always find these at my Asian grocery store. Now, you can also buy them online.
These preserved beans can be stored in your pantry. If you look at the photo you will see how I cleverly attached the recipe for the black bean sauce to the jar with the beans in it. I only make this recipe once or twice a year so when I do I want the recipe right there.
Is Black Bean Sauce Gluten Free?
No, none of it! At least that is my experience as all bottled black bean sauces list soy sauce and wheat on the label. I’m sure you can find a gluten free brand somewhere but I just quit looking and made my own. It takes less than ten minutes and it works for me. Click here to go to the recipe, Chinese Black Bean Sauce.
What you need to know to get started is that both the Chinese black beans and the black bean sauce can be used in many Asian recipes. Use it when you see bean sauce, black bean sauce, ground bean sauce or Chinese bean sauce in any recipe. If a recipe calls for these exact names but includes with garlic or with ginger in the name, simply use the sauce and adjust the garlic or ginger to your liking.
In the comments below I’d love to hear where you found these black beans or what you used them for.
Click on the text on each image to go to the recipe/blog post.