Friday Food 60 – Douban Jiang
Friday food is a weekly article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This Friday we are looking at douban jiang.
Cards on the table. My two favourite regions for Chinese food are Hunan and Sichuan. With very few exceptions, I find a lot of other Chinese food to be rather bland, especially Cantonese. All style and no substance.
So I always have some of this on hand in the kitchen. Not for nothing is it referred to as “the soul of Sichuan cuisine.”
Douban jiang (豆瓣酱 literally, ‘bean fragment sauce’) is a fermented sauce made from hot chillies, broad beans (also known as fava beans), wheat flour and salt, and is frequently used in Sichuan cuisine. It is available under various names including “chilli bean sauce,” “chilli bean paste,” “toban djan,” and “toban jhan.”
The paste is deep red in colour and has a rich, spicy taste. The best douban jiang is said to be Pixian douban jiang (郫县豆瓣酱), made in the town of Pixian, Sichuan. A mere ¥3.50 for 250g.
Cheaper varieties use soy beans, but these are considered inferior. Lianhua supermarkets do a fresh soy bean version, but if you can track down the Pixian version, it is much better. It can be found in supermarkets and some of the speciality shops listed here. I’d avoid the overpriced and inferior bottled varieties made by multinationals such as Lee Kum Kee.
The sauce is used in stir fries, over noodles and in hotpot bases. It has a particular affinity with fish and tofu.