I don’t cook a lot of Chinese food, but HOT DAMN I may as well start now that I have Doubanjiang in my life. I’ve never heard of it before until I saw it in my newly acquired cookbook, Munchies Guide to Dinner. My time as a Munchies Test Kitchen Apprentice ended last month, and Farideh sent me off with a free copy of their recently published book. I flipped through the recipes, hoping to find a new ingredient to add to this blogs collection (and promote the book), and found Doubanjiang.
Not to scare you, but Doudabjiang can be intimidating at first. It was to me anyway. I took a trip to the Asian market and found not one, but dozens upon dozens of brands. Some were bright, others reddish brown, and even black! There are doubanjiang producers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan, but the best-quality comes from Pixian, the capitol of Sichuan in China. Out of overwhelm, I settled for the basic Lee Kum Kee brand recommended in the Munchies Cookbook. But that doesn’t mean I won’t go back for different varieties once this jar is done!
In the end, no matter which brand you end up buying, you’ll experience Doubanjiang magic! It’s a flavor bomb if I ever knew one–and I’ve tasted many (miso butter, bacon jam, and shrimp paste to name a few). Added in small amounts, doubanjiang will jazz up any dish, from noodles and rice, to vegetables and meats.
Now this could fall under the list of ingredients you buy for just 1 tablespoon in a recipe then never use again. But you’ll soon realize its use doesn’t have to be limited to Chinese cooking. Make it a staple in your pantry to add complex flavor to any simple weeknight dish.
About: A staple seasoning paste in Chinese cooking (particularly Szechuan cuisine) made from fermented beans and chilis. It brings heat and umami to any home cooked meal. Recommended for vegetarians and vegans looking to enhance flavor in their dishes.
AKA: broad bean chili sauce • chili bean sauce • fermented bean paste • the soul of Sichuan cuisine • soy bean chili sauce • toban djan
Origin: Szechuan Provence in Southwestern China
Varieties: Doubanjiang varies in flavor, color, heat, and texture throughout different regions of China and other Asian countries.
While fermented foods are generally known to be healthy for digestion and immune health, some Doubanjiang products may contain high levels of salt and sugar—so if health is important to you, read the nutrition label.
Calories: 5 per 1 teaspoon
Substitutes: ketchup • miso • sambal oelek chili • gochujang
Where to Buy: Asian markets or the international section of your local grocery store, near other asian condiments. You’ll find more options and better-quality doubanjiang in Asian stores. If you find yourself hopelessly lost in the aisles (like me), show staff a photo on your phone, they’ll help you find it. Prices vary from brand to brand, but you’ll find cheaper prices at asian markets than online.
How to Select: Look for the Chinese characters “豆瓣” (douban), or check the ingredient list for broad beans, soybeans, and chili peppers. Some brands are paste-like and jarred with oil, while others are packages as firm, dried blocks.
How to Cook: For jarred paste, add a tablespoon or more to taste as a seasoning agent in dishes that serve 4 people. For dried blocks, scrap off tablespoon-size pieces and fry in oil. Then add your other flavorings like ginger and garlic, followed by portions, vegetables, or rice. Some brands are chunkier in texture than others. If that’s the case, mince it with your knife or pulse in a food processor before adding to your dishes. Think of doubanjiangs application like soy sauce—too salty as a dip or stand-alone flavor.
How to Store: Once opened, doubanjiang will last indefinitely in the fridge. The amount of salt will act as a natural preservative.
Make Your Own (via China Sichian Food)
What it Tates Like: rich • savory • salty • hot (but not too hot) • pungent • earthy
Suggested Uses: mixed in noodles • tossed in vegetables • stir-fried • soup & stews • sauces • eggs • fried rice • dips • vinaigrettes • burgers • chili • marinades
Mapo Tofu (via Cooking with Dog)
Spicy Shoyu Ramen (via Just One Cookbook)
Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles (via Food52)
Spicy Cabbage Rolls with Mushrooms and Pork (via Lee Kum Kee)
Spicy Chicken Noodles Soup (via The Tummy Train)
Doubanjiang is spicy and salty, so reduce or eliminate salt and hot sauce accordingly.
~*~ MORE ~*~
The Essential Guide to Doubanjiangs (via Mala Food)
What do you know about Doubanjiang?