Simple homemade Chinese-style black bean sauce – made with fermented black beans (sometimes known as salted black beans).
The beans just need a short 30-60 minute soak, then they’re ready to be made into a quick, rich, umami stir fry sauce.

A glass jar filled with homemade black bean sauce. There is a black spoon, taking a spoonful from the jar.
The jar is on a dark surface and there are ingredients scattered around.

I love making stir fry sauces, as they’re usually so simple – calling for little more than a splash of various ingredients from a number of bottles, plus a little garlic and ginger.

Black bean sauce always intrigued me though, as it contains something I’d never used before. Black beans of course.
Now we’re not talking tinned or dried black beans. Black bean sauce calls for fermented black beans, also known as douchi. These are black soy beans that have been fermented and salted.

I’ve got to admit, I didn’t really want to go to the (6 month+) effort of fermenting black beans myself, but fortunately you can buy them in packs, ready fermented!

📋 Ingredients?

Ingredients for homemade black bean sauce on a wooden board.

Most of the ingredients for black bean sauce are very easy to source from practically any mid-size supermarket. It’s just the beans which may be a little more difficult to find.

You should be able to pick them up at any Asian supermarket, or if you don’t have one nearby, then Amazon also sells them.

We only need 4 tablespoons of fermented black beans to make a cup of black bean sauce (which should serve about 4 people), so I’d advise going with the smaller packet, unless you’re looking to make LOTS of black bean sauce.

  • The red packet (<–affiliate link) shown below is a 100g pack. I use about a third of this pack to make a jar of black bean sauce.
  • The white pack (<–affiliate link) is 500g! I bought a big pack because I knew I’d be doing lots of testing.

Fortunately they last for ages. An opened pack should be stored in a sealed container in the fridge. They should happily last for a year in there.

two different packets of fermented black beans on a wooden board.

📺 Watch how to make it

Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.

  1. First we soak the fermented black beans in cold water for about an hour. After this time, drain and rinse the beans. The beans are very salty, to be sure to rinse well.
  2. Squish the beans up a bit with the back of a fork. Leave roughly a quarter of the beans whole, the rest can be squashed to a lumpy paste.
  3. Fry garlic and ginger in oil with the black beans. Then add rice wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, pepper and stock.
  4. Simmer together for about 5 minutes. Thicken the sauce with a little cornflour slurry, then turn off the heat and it’s ready to use.

👩‍🍳PRO TIP The sauce will be on the salty side, but once you’ve fried it up with meat and vegetables, it will taste perfectly balanced. You can use reduced sodium stock if you’re worried about it being too salty for your taste.

A glass jar filled with homemade black bean sauce. There is a black spoon, taking a spoonful from the jar. The jar is on a dark surface and there are ingredients in the background.

🍽️ How to use it

  • Stir fried with chicken, tofu or vegetables
  • Stir fried with beef and vegetables for a tasty beef in black bean sauce ⬇️
Beef in black bean sauce stir fry with boiled rice in a bowl, topped with spring onions and sesame seeds.

If you don’t want to use the sauce right away, you can cool it, then store in a sealed container/jar in the fridge for 2 weeks.

A glass jar filled with homemade black bean sauce. There is a black spoon sticking out of the jar. The jar is on a dark surface and there are ingredients in the background

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Black Bean Sauce Recipe

Simple homemade Chinese-style black bean sauce – made with fermented black beans.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 18 minutes
Servings: 4
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: Chinese

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp fermented black beans
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing Chinese rice wine or use dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp granulated or caster sugar
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) chicken or vegetable stock
  • cornflour cornstarch slurry – made of 1 tablespoon cornflour, mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water

Instructions 

  • Start by soaking the fermented black beans. Place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for one hour, then rinse and drain.
    4 tbsp fermented black beans
  • Once drained, give the black beans a bit of a mash with the back of a fork. I like to mash up about three-quarters and leave the rest whole.
  • Add the sesame and rapeseed oil to a small saucepan. Heat over a medium heat.
    1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Add the garlic, ginger, and black beans and fry for one minute, stirring often, until fragrant.
    3 cloves minced garlic, 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • Add the rice wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, pepper, and stock.
    2 tbsp Shaoxing Chinese rice wine, 2 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 tsp rice vinegar, 2 tsp granulated or caster sugar, ½ tsp ground black pepper, 180 ml (3/4 cup) chicken or vegetable stock
  • Stir together, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly reduced.
  • Stir in the cornflour slurry to thicken the sauce, then turn off the heat.
    cornflour
  • Use right away, or cool, cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Video

Notes

Makes around 250ml (a little over a cup) of black bean sauce, then can be used a complete stir-fry sauce. This should serve 4-6 people.
 
Nutritional information is approximate, per serving, based on this recipe making 4 servings.

Nutrition

Calories: 136kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 0.1mg | Sodium: 744mg | Potassium: 37mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

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Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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