Chinese Black Bean Sauce

Fermented black beans mixed with traditional ingredients creates one of the most popular stir-fry sauces on a Chinese food menu. This pungent and earthy sauce is easy to make and will last in the refrigerator up to a month. It can also be frozen in small portions to easily be used for a quick stir-fry. Because of the saltiness of the beans, there is no need to add salt in the recipes where you use this sauce.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
35 mins


  • 8 ounces dried fermented black beans

  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil

  • 4 Thai chiles, chopped

  • 1 medium shallot, minced

  • 1 (2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari

  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine

  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

  • ½ teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper

  • ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


  1. Rinse black beans thoroughly and dry. Remove about 1/4 cup and set aside. Roughly chop the rest of the beans.

  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add chiles, shallot, ginger, and garlic. Fry until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Do not let the ingredients burn. Reduce the heat if necessary. The objective is to slow cook the ingredients.

  3. Add all the beans; both chopped and whole. Simmer, stirring often, until the beans are soft, about 2 minutes. Add tamari, rice wine, brown sugar, ground Sichuan pepper, and five spice. Simmer until thickened, stirring often. Remove from heat; let cool, about 10 minutes.

  4. Mix in sesame oil and cover. As the sauce rests, the beans will settle and the oil will float, creating a barrier which will protect it from mold. The sauce is ready to use or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Cook's Notes:

Not to be confused with regular black beans, fermented black beans can be found in your local Asian food store or online. They are either canned in liquid or dried and sold in resealable bags. If using the canned type, drain before rinsing.

To Use: Mix well, use about 1/4 cup for a stir fry for 4 people. Dilute with a bit of broth, water, or soy sauce to your stir fry. Use as a marinade for ribs, chicken, or fish. Always top with a bit of pure sesame oil to keep it from molding. Add a dollop to your favorite ramen dish as it is a perfect base for noodle dishes or soups.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

211 Calories
22g Fat
3g Carbs
1g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 15
Calories 211
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Sodium 203mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 30mg 148%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 67mg 1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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