Posted in Foodstuffs

Sichuan Chili Bean Paste (Sichuan Pixiandouban Co. Brand)

It is almost impossible to conceive of Sichuan cuisine without healthy lashings of broad bean paste as the condiment is even more characteristic of the regional flavor palate than are the famous Sichuan Peppercorns. The basic article consists of broad beans fermented in salt, often with flour added, and thus it provides the same sort of umami fillip as does the more widely known soy-based Miso in Japanese cookery. In Chinese, the condiment is represented by the characters 豆瓣酱, which are pronounced dòubànjiàng, but it is common to see it represented in cookery books, or on jar labels as ‘toban djan’, ‘toban jang’, or ‘toban dian’.

Even more ubiquitous than the plain old Toban djan is the spicier, chili laden version known, in Mandarin, as là dòubànjiàng (辣豆瓣酱), or hot (spicy) bean paste. There are many brands available, both from Sichuan and elsewhere, and there is even a Lee Kum Kee Chili Bean Paste widely available in the west. Amongst those from Sichuan, however, the best are widely considered to be manufactured in the county of Pixian, and the variety you see above, made by the Sichuan Pixiandouban Co. Ltd., is one of these… Continue reading “Sichuan Chili Bean Paste (Sichuan Pixiandouban Co. Brand)”

Posted in Foodstuffs

Foodstuff: Lee Kum Kee Brand Chili Black Bean Sauce

As I wrote in my ‘Foodstuffs’ post featuring Salted Black Beans, I generally prefer to use the raw beans when making a sauce as most of the commercial Black Bean Sauces are not very good, in my opinion.  Fermented black beans have a rather distinct ‘chocolaty’ under taste that is usually quite mild but this usually seems to be much more pronounced in commercial preparations. Commercial sauces also tend to have a rather nasty black color to them that can make a finished dish unattractive. Lee Kum Kee’s own version of regular Black Bean sauce is no better than any of the others in these regards but this particular version with Chili is excellent. The addition of chili limits its use to spicier dishes, of course, but it is still a very useful and versatile sauce…  Continue reading “Foodstuff: Lee Kum Kee Brand Chili Black Bean Sauce”