What is Doubanjiang?
This salty and spicy paste is worth a trip to the Asian market.
Doubanjiang is a condiment of many names. Also called tobanjiang, broad bean chili paste, and fermented chili bean paste, this vibrant sauce is the backbone of many beloved Chinese dishes. A specialty of Sichuan cuisine, doubanjiang can add bold flavor to any recipe.
What is Doubanjiang Made From?
Doubanjiang is made from a blend of fermented broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice, and spices. Spicy varieties also include chile peppers in the ingredients list. The longer the ferment, which often ranges from three months to three years, the more expensive and high-end the doubanjiang will be.
What Does Doubanjiang Taste Like?
Doubanjiang is packed with umami (savory) flavor. The fermentation creates a complex taste that's salty and earthy at the same time, adding depth to any recipe that gets a dollop of it. You can stick with regular doubanjiang or opt for one of the spicy varieties. Search for a jar labelled "spicy" or look for chile peppers in the ingredients list, but if neither of those are available, the color of the product is also an indication of heat level. Spicy doubanjiang is a bright red color, while non-spicy doubanjiang is a dark brown, nearly black, color.
Where to Find Doubanjiang
You can find doubanjiang at any Asian grocery store. It comes in plastic, vacuum-sealed packs, or can also be found in jars. If you don't have an Asian market nearby, there are highly-rated varieties available online, like this 28 ounce jar on Amazon for just $15. Once opened, it needs to be refrigerated, but can last up to a year due to its high salt content.
How to Use Doubanjiang
Doubanjiang isn't typically used as a stand-alone condiment, and instead is often tossed into dishes to give them an extra boost of savory (and sometimes spicy) flavor, such as stir-fries or noodles. It's a base ingredient for dishes like mapo tofu, hunan chicken, Taiwanese beef noodle soup, and practically any recipe hailing from the Sichuan region of China. You don't have to just stick with Asian dishes though, doubanjiang's savoriness can be used to amp up soups, marinades, and sauces of all kind.