There is a lot of confusion on Asian bean sauces or pastes as they are so many varieties of bean sauces. Made from fermented soy beans, red adzuki beans or black beans. The ancient kitchens of Asia figured out how to add a new flavor profile to their cooking. The others are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, astringent and Umami which was discovered with the discovery of fermented food taste.
- They vary in color from yellow to brown to black.
- They are thick pastes and must be spooned from the jar.
- They add depth and flavor to many dishes very much like monosodium glutemate. It has a savory, meaty taste.
- There are hot bean sauces, sweet bean sauces, oily bean sauces, sauces
- They have whole beans (min sze jeung)and sauces which are smoothly ground (sze jeung).
These sauces should keep almost indefinitely even without refrigeration, but be particular to use only a clean, dry spoon.
Bean sauces, in particular those spiked with chilli, are essential in Hunan and Szechwan cuisine, and are the favoured seasoning for meat dishes in northern China.
Black Bean Paste
Black bean paste or sauce is made from salty, fermented black beans. It is used as a condiment or cooking sauce and may be flavored with spicy chile paste or garlic. Fermented Bean Sauce is the coommon cooking and flavoring sauce used in Asian cooking. A staple of Chinese cooking, black bean sauce is made from fermented black beans, rice wine, garlic and sometimes chiles.
Probably the most widely known of the sauces is hoi sin jeung, very useful with its balance of sweetness, saltiness, garlic and five-spice powder. Also well known is tim mein jeung, a sweet and salty ground bean sauce
Red Bean Paste
Red bean paste is made from boiled, mashed adzuki beans and is sweetened with sugar or honey. The paste may be smooth or may contain bits of mashed beans for texture. Red bean paste is used in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisine, primarily for dessert items such as cakes, pancakes, moon cakes, glutinous rice balls, and sweet soups.
Yellow Bean Paste
Yellow bean paste is similar in texture to red bean paste. It is made from cooked, de-hulled mung beans, which are sweetened and mashed. Yellow bean paste is commonly made into ice cream and other dessert items, such as a filling for moon cakes. The term “yellow bean paste” is also sometimes used as a synonym for a salty yellow-brown soybean sauce that comes in a bottle and is used as a condiment.
Brown Bean Paste
Brown bean paste or sauce is made from fermented soy beans, water, salt, and flour. It can be thick or thin, smooth or chunky. Brown bean paste may be flavored with garlic, chilies, or other spices. It is generally used to flavor stir-fries, vegetables, and tofu dishes as well as pork, duck, and fish.
Miso (pronounced MEE-soh) is a dense bean paste made from soybeans and a grain such as barley or rice, fermented with yeast mold. This mixture is combined with salt and water and aged for a period of months or even years.
There are perhaps hundreds of types of miso, classed into two basic categories: shiro miso and aka miso. Shiro, or white, miso is on the sweeter side, whereas aka, or red, miso tends to be stronger and saltier. Miso is added to soups, broth, sauces, marinades, and dressings as a flavoring.