There is nothing that expresses the cultural beliefs and value than food. The essence of this is seen when you have a culture that is globally famous for its artistic culinary skills.
Sichuan province in China is common for its unique and spicy dishes.
Today we open our doors to your most beloved seasoning paste, the doubanjiang or better known as the soul of Sichuan cooking.
WHAT IS DOUBANJIANG?
Doubanjiang or (spicy broad bean paste) is basically a salty paste that is made from fermented broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice among other spices. Although it originated in Sichuan province, there are different versions of doubanjiang spread through China and other Asian countries.
In Sichuan province, we make the doubanjiang using the fava beans. You may divide it into 2
- The red oil doubanjiang which easy to make at home.
- The pixian doubanjiang is the other type. It originates from pixian in Sichuan province.
You may have heard of pixan doubanjiang already since it enjoys a good reputation around the world for its unique flavor. While a few people may opt to use it as a condiment, we often prefer to stir-fry it in oil and use it as a flavor enhancer.
In summary, the doubanjiang is known for its flavor that is not only savoury-spicy but also earthy and rich. This we attribute to the fact that the beans may take longer during the fermentation process which increases the flavor and colour.
By now you may have noted that there are quite a number of bean pastes and chilli bean pastes used by the Asian community. Doubanjiang is however different, unlike the others that mostly use soybeans, it uses fava beans.
It’s made by putting the beans in a crockpot with the aim of fermenting. Within a few months, you are expected to add chillies, salt and wheat flour. You then leave this mixture for anything between 1-8 years to continue the fermentation process. You are required to stir it daily though.
HOW TO USE DOUBANJIANG
I really love doubanjiang because it changes the taste of even a meal that would otherwise have been a disaster to a very delicious delicacy.
I literary have to hold myself from using it in every other meal. Trust me, this didn’t start today. My mum also noted the difference in my appetite whenever she used doubanjiang in our meal.
- This is an ingredient to Mapo Tofu, Shuizhu beef and twice-cooked pork which are majorly Sichuan delicacies.
- It has the duty to transform your stir-fries into something unforgettable.
- It will jazz up your simple fried rice or noodles
- You could sprinkle some lime juice over it then drizzle it over your salad.
- I use it when I quickly need a boiled, sunny side up or scrambled egg then eat with rice or noodles.
- You could use it to make your shredded pork with garlic sauce.
Trust me, you don’t want to ask me when I use doubanjiang because I use it for almost every meal.
WHY SHOULD YOU USE DOUBANJIANG?
You see, whenever there is the fermentation of protein there is normally a release of amino acids. In this case, there is a further large amount of salt release that increases the umami flavors which will do magic to any food. The umami flavor makes them suitable to make the seasoning paste.
It goes well with the Chinese and other Asian dishes because it has a savoury taste that you always want to add to your meal.
The red-brown color will also enrich the color of your meal. I would gladly say that like the soy sauce in Cantonese dishes, the doubanjiang is the most preferred seasoning or sauce form in Sichuan. The Sichuanese don’t use a lot of soy sauce, they instead use doubanjiang.
So, whenever you use the doubanjiang rest assured that you don’t have to use the soy sauce.
THE DOUBANJIANG SUBSTITUTE
If you are in an area where you can’t access the doubanjiang you could substitute it with any kind of Chinese hot bean paste or dark miso with chilli.
I know that it is easy to find it even in the largest markets of the US and UK but just in case you can’t find one. Use the above as your substitutes.
THE BUYING GUIDE-KNOW WHICH ONES YOU WANT
You see our article is mainly focusing on the Sichuan doubanjiang because it is full of flavor, aromatic, savoury and spicy. Nevertheless, there are other kinds of doubanjiang from other regions. Let’s briefly understand more about them.
The Sichuan Doubanjiang
As earlier stated, the doubanjiang is made using fermented broad beans and chilli peppers. The most common paste is the pixian doubanjiang which is a fermentation of whole pieces of broad beans, large shreds of chilli peppers, wheat flour and salt. This is done in pixian’s special environmental condition.
The texture of the pixian doubanjiang is usually coarse. It will further give your meal the nice reddish-brown color and deep complex umami flavors.
The other kinds of doubanjiang paste from this province are Youjoy brand which is from Chengdu, Zigong brand and Chongqing.
The other common brand of doubanjiang comes from Kangshan city in Taiwan. The origin of the paste dates back to 1950 when a soldier from Sichuan in China established it. The difference here though is that the paste is made from soybeans. It is usually either spicy or non-spicy.
The spicy doubanjiang or la doubanjiang: it’s made using fermented bean paste and red chilli peppers.
Non-spicy doubanjiang: is basically a Taiwanese brand that contains no chillies, in fact, its color is brown. You may use it to make your non-spicy Mapo Tofu.
These are made from soybeans fermentation and may contain chillies or not. The most common brands in this section are Lee Kum Kee and Hong Kong brands. You can easily access them in major Asian stores within the country and other parts of the world.
Since doubanjiang is rarely used in the Cantonese meals the kind of brand they offer can’t suit the authentic Sichuan dishes. Always go for the prior ones unless otherwise indicated.
These ones are made in California. It actually includes the fermentation of broad beans, soybeans wheat flour and salt. It emulates the Kangshan doubanjiang. You may use it whenever you are in America and need to make your meal with it.
So, now that you know what you intend to buy
WHERE DO YOU BUY THE DOUBANJIANG?
This is an easy to answer question because if you have a Chinese store within your vicinity, they will most likely stock it there. However, if you can’t find it there do find it at Amazon.
THE TOP 10 BEST DOUBANJIANG TO BUY IN AMAZON
This is the spicy version of doubanjiang with red chillies in it to influence the color to reddish-brown and flavor to a hot kind of paste. It’s particularly a well know brand of pixian douban. You can stir fry it with oil then eat it with rice or noodles.
It’s made using broad beans, red chillies, salt wheat flour vegetable oil, monosodium glutamate oil, potassium sorbate and water. This brand is rich in flavor and usually appears to be reddish-oily in color with a strong fragrance. It is your perfect companion for Mapo Tofu, Muxu pork, twice cooked pork or tofu salad.
For your added depth of flavor, go for this brand. It works well on the recipes that call for pixian doubanjiang. It has a nutty, savoury flavor with a warming earthy spiciness. The fermentation process further releases a hint of sweetness.
Whenever you need to make your Sichuan dish, stir fry it in oil and you are good to go. This spicy chilli fermented paste could be used in various dishes like salads, stews, soups, marinades and stir-fries. Note that this paste is usually salty and spicy. Therefore, be mindful of the amount of salt you use in your dish.
This is your other must-have can of doubanjiang if you love the Sichuan kind of cooking. The ingredients used to make it include red chilli, broad bean, wheat flour, vegetable oil, salt, spice and food additive. The packaging is plastic in nature making it easy to store.
For your mala and yuxiang flavors, go for this brand. The oil helps to absorb the heat and chilli flavor making it maintain a perfectly balanced flavor.
This is another indispensable spicy seasoning which is made by fermenting chilli pepper, alcohol, salt and broad beans without preservatives or other additives. Its flavor richness and vivid color will most likely arouse the appetite.
Note that the product further suits those of you who have been looking for a gluten-free fermented bean paste. Being a Japanese product, it dwells more on the chilli ingredients but has the flavor of the bean paste.
The product is suitable for making hot and sour soup, Mapo Tofu, your stir-fries, sauces and noodles. Remember to spread just a little bit of it because it goes a long way.
This is another best product from the bunch. It has a good color and taste without extra extraneous ingredients. The spicy paste simply contains fermented broad beans, soybeans, salt rice and your other spices.
Whenever you are in a hurry, you may decide to stir fry the seasoned bean paste with oil and eat with your rice noodles. The ingredient is a primary flavoring agent for your fried tofu dishes and cold tofu salads. You could mix it with instant noodles as well.
Whenever you have it, you don’t need to use soy sauce.
The soeos brand is well known for producing one of the best Asian spices. This doubanjiang is made using red chillies, broad beans, salt, oil, rice and various other spices. It remains among the few brands that offer a can of paste with real broad beans.
If you are looking for a paste with this pungent aroma of chunks of broad beans with chilli peppers in it then this is it. It is a high-quality product with carefully clean packaging to ensure you receive the product in good condition.
Note, always use a little amount of the paste at first because the product entails a high concentration of flavors.
Here is your other brand of preserved broad beans and spicy blend of chillies. The chilli bean paste is traditionally made of tongue-tingling and spicy dish. It’s an authentic flavor that is vastly used to make the Chinese dishes.
Made using the spicy chillies and broad beans the color of the product makes your meal develop an authentically rich color. The product will not only provide the heat but also the rich flavors.
This product is best suited for your Sichuan style of cooking. Its nutty savoury flavor suits your noodles. If you have been searching for a hot bean paste this is your brand. You are probably familiar with the kind of flavor you are going for if you are thinking of buying it.
Remember, it is a better product than most Taiwanese and Cantonese bean pastes.
If you intend to deliver a delicate taste, with a sweet aroma and perfect texture in your meal, this is the paste to go to. The brand is known to deliver quality products to its customers. It’s a product that suits your hot and sour dishes, stir fry meat and veggies.
This is a Japanese product that is made using fermented soybeans and chillies together with fermented miso, salt, sugar and other additives. The product is said to be full of aroma and flavors which can be used for universal seasoning and flavor addition.
To all the vegetarians out there you can rest assured that this product is made using no animal product.
COOKING WITH YOUR DOUBANJIANG
Most of the time you will find that doubanjiang is chunky. Some people like to mince it in a food processor to make it all smooth or run a knife in the chunks cutting it into small pieces. However, I never mind the chunks because whenever I run into a chunk, I’m reminded of what I’m eating.
What I’m cautious about is the amount I add into my meal because the paste tends to be salty which may ruin your tastes if you are not careful to limit the use.