Sichuan Fermented Black Beans (Preserved Soybeans, Douchi)

12 Reviews

Fermented black soybeans are called douchi, but we just like to call them umami bombs, since they pack so much flavor in such a little bean. They are a fixture of Cantonese cuisine, but also beloved in Sichuan, where they are made in a different style and result in a different texture and taste. These are made by our partner Sichuan Pixian Douban Co., which is famous for its fermented broad bean paste (doubanjiang) but has also applied its fermentation expertise to Sichuan-style preserved soybeans. Although it has a large modern factory, the company still makes all its douchi the traditional way—in sealed earthen crocks that sit outside and absorb and react to the changing seasons (see photo). 

Whereas Cantonese douchi are small, dry beans, preserved only in salt (and sometimes ginger), Sichuan douchi are fermented in water with salt, wheat, liquor and spices. After a year, the beans end up plump and moist, surrounded by a bit of paste. Unlike the more-familiar Cantonese black beans, they should not be rinsed before use to clean or plump, as you don't want to rinse away all that flavor.

While similar in taste to other douchi (tasting purely of intense black bean, not the spice or liquor they are aged in), they are a bit more mild and less salty. Fermented black beans are a must-have for twice-cooked pork, hot pot and dry pot, and can be added to a stir-fry for an added zing. Or try the Mala Market recipe for black bean chili oil over on Food52.

Source: Sichuan Pixian Douban Co., Chengdu, Sichuan
Size: 300 grams (10.5 ounces)
Ingredients: soybean, water, salt, wheat, liquor, spices, potassium sorbate
Allergens: soybean, wheat
Best by: Open by March 2022; refrigerate after opening for longterm storage; fermented products do not really expire, but Chinese law, unlike American, requires an expiration date