Fermented Chinese Black Beans have a complex, pungent flavour that is unmistakable. They’re naturally gluten free and their unique taste is why they are a special ingredient that’s always in my pantry.
They go by many different names in recipes so if they’re new to you a bit of an explanation will be helpful.
Chinese Black Beans Are Not Black Turtle Beans
First off, Chinese black beans are not the black beans, also known as 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 too but not in Asian recipes. This post is not about black turtle beans.
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Salted, Fermented and Preserved Chinese Black Beans
The Chinese black beans we’re talking about here are dried, black soybeans. Salt is used in the process of fermentation as a way to preserve them; so technically all of those names make sense. So use them in any recipe you read calling for fermented black beans, salted black beans or preserved black beans.
YouTube – How To Use Chinese Black Beans
Buying and Storing Fermented Chinese Black Beans
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I buy Yang Jiang brand in the round, yellow box you can see in the photo. It’s the brand I’ve been using for thirty years and I can always find these at my Asian grocery store. Of course you can also buy them online.
Store preserved beans in your pantry in the box or transfer them to a jar. In my photo you can see that I cleverly attached my black bean sauce recipe to the jar. I only make this sauce once or twice a year so when I do I want the recipe right there.
Is Store Bought Black Bean Sauce Gluten Free?
No, none of it! At least that’s my experience. All bottled black bean sauces I’ve seen list soy sauce and wheat on the label. I’m sure you can find a gluten free brand nowadays but I just quit looking and make my own. I’ve got the beans in my pantry, it takes less than ten minutes to make and it works for me. Here’s my recipe for Chinese Black Bean Sauce.
How To Use Chinese Black Beans
What you need to know to get started is that both the sauce and the black beans right out of the carton can be used in recipes. Use the sauce in recipes calling for bean sauce, black bean sauce, ground bean sauce or Chinese bean sauce. If a recipe specifically calls for black bean sauce but includes with garlic or with ginger in the name, simply use the sauce and adjust the garlic or ginger to your liking.
In recipes using the beans right out of the box, like my Hoisin Glazed Pork Ribs, simply rinse and chop.
In the comments below I’d love to hear where you found these black beans or what you used them for.
Originally posted 2016, updated February 2022.
Recipes Using Chinese Black Beans
Click on the (hard to see) text on the bottom of each image to go to the recipe/blog post.