Sichuan cuisine is famous for different types of seasonings and spices. There is an old saying that red pepper and Sichuan peppercorn are hearts of Sichuan cuisine. People interested in Sichuan cuisine will feel it in the kitchen.
Elaine is going to introduce the most common and important seasoning : Doubanjiang or also known as broad bean paste.
Firstly the doubanjiang in sichuan cuisine is broad bean paste which uses broad bean(fava beans) as the main ingredients rather than soy bean chili paste.
And we are two types of doubanjiang quite popular in China now. One is homemade red oil doubanjiang; this is quite popular in the housewives’ kitchen. And the other one is the famous Pixian doubanjiang. Following is a picture shows the two types of doubanjiang.
Only people in Sichuan province use broad bean to product this type of chili paste. And there are people in other provinces of China use soy beans to make their chili bean paste with a misleading name Doubangjiang (soy paste) too.
Among different producers, the most famous one is Pixian Doubanjiang (Pi Xian Dou Ban)which is produced by generations in Pixian, a small area in Sichuan province. Due to the excellent water sauces and ancestral recipe, Pixian Doubanjiang has its unique flavor and enjoy a high reputation all over China even outside China.
Besides the famous Pixian Doubangjiang, common people in Sichuan province also make their own Doubanjiang at home. The homemade Doubanjiang has a simpler process and also outstanding taste. I get two in my family: my lovely mother and my excellent grand mom. They all make Doubanjiang at home every one year since the ready Doubanjiang can be kept over years. Generally homemade doubanjiang is referred as red oil doubanjiang, which means oil is used in the process. Comparing with Pixian doubangjiang, homemade red oil usually gets a brighter color due to the oil used but the former one provides a stronger taste. I have searched on online and find Pi’xian Doubanjiang on amazon: Sichuan / Pixian / Pi Xian Broad Bean Paste 16OZ (454g)
If you ever tried the following dishes, I guess you understand the taste of doubanjiang.
Get a look of my Doubanjiang family．The big jar is made by myself this year! And I have to wait around 4 months before enjoying it. You can also purchase red oil chili bean paste in supermarket or on amazon.
It is quite common for people in Szechuan province to make homemade red oil doubanjiang. However this might be quite hard to reproduce it because well fermented board beans are extremely hard to find outside Sichuan. So I am extremely sorry that using the traditional Szechuan way to make red oil doubanjiang is impossible for most of you.
I have tested several batches of making fermented board beans at home, but failed all. I will try to figure out if there is a shortcut.