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.
I list the Homemade Doubanjiang recipe in case you may want to try to make it at home or get a further understanding about how doubanjiang is made. Since the large jar of doubanjiang I paste above has been planed for the following two years, I am sorry that the step photos are not provided now. I will try to get some in near future.
Homemade Red Oil Doubanjiang.
- 100 oz. broad bean
- 10 oz. wheat flour
- 1 bottle of white wine around 500 ml, hard liquid please
- 9 oz. salt
- 50 oz. fresh chili pepper
- 5 tablespoons of mixed herb (Anise, Cinnamon, Bay leaf, Sichuan peppercorn)
- 20 oz. rapeseed oil
- Soak the beans in boiling water until the shells become soft. And then peel the broad beans.
- Steam the peeled broad beans around 20 minutes with a wok and steamer. Cut into small pieces (around fingernail size).
- Transfer broad beans to a container and add white wine, set aside for 18 hours to 24 hours (avoid sunshine)until the broad bean becomes a little bit sticky. Sometimes this process may need two days according to the temperature.
- Mix beans with salt and wheat flour evenly.
- Cover the container with clean gauze and put the container under the sun shine and remember to turn it over every 24 hours. After two days, move the container to a shade place for another week.
- Capped fresh pepper and dry the water on surface in the air. Chop it with machine or by hand. (Not too small, with the size around 3cms)
- Add chopped fresh pepper, mixed herbs into the beans dried before. Cover with gauze again and dry under sun shine (usually need 3~5 days) until you can smell the flavor of garlic, pepper and herbs strongly.
- Add rapeseed oil into the container and put aside until the color of oil becomes brightly red. If rapeseed oil is not available, please replace the oil with other vegetable oil.
The real Doubanjiang is made from broad bean but not soy beans. And the tastes of the two types of pastes are quite different.
I strongly recommend eating it after placing at least 15 days (3 months are the best). The flavor will becomes stronger as the time goes by.
Make sure that your doubanjiang is soaked with oil. Then it can be saved up to 3 years.