Unlike many of the soybean pastes and sauces we’ve talked about in this glossary, which are fermented bean pastes made from yellow soybeans, black bean garlic sauce is actually made from an already fermented product––fermented black beans.
In this quick article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this ingredient and how it’s used in Chinese cooking.
What Is Black Bean Garlic Sauce?
Black bean garlic sauce (suàn róng dòuchǐ jiàng, 蒜蓉豆豉酱) is made from grinding salted/fermented black soybeans with garlic and other seasonings. Rather than using whole fermented black beans and hand-chopped garlic to make a dish, this sauce comes ready to use.
How Is It Used?
Black bean garlic sauce can be used in stir-fries, steamed dishes, and especially seafood dishes. Typically, when cooking with black beans, we like to use whole fermented black beans. That said, this pre-made black bean garlic sauce is a convenient jarred option that adds additional flavor to a dish.
In the case of the dim sum specialty, steamed spare ribs with black bean sauce, we prefer to keep the dish clean-looking and keep the pork and fermented black bean flavors separate, so we use whole fermented black beans. But for dishes like Periwinkle snails in black bean sauce or Stir fried clams in black bean sauce, this black bean garlic sauce is perfect!
While this black bean sauce is easy to use, be aware that whatever sauce or stir-fry you make with it will be dark, because the beans are finely ground.
Buying & Storing
Black bean garlic sauce can be purchased in Chinese grocery stores or online. Refrigerate after opening, and make sure to only use a clean utensil when spooning some out. It also helps to stir before using it.
Use by the date indicated on the package. To give you an idea of its shelf life, the jar we bought in September 2019 has a best-by date of April 2022.
Substitutions for Black Bean Sauce
If you can’t find black bean garlic sauce (or would rather not add another jar of something to your fridge door), you can always use a mixture of fermented black beans and fresh garlic.
Our Favorite Recipes That Use This Ingredient
If you have further questions about black bean garlic sauce, let us know in the comments––we try to answer every single one.