Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tobanjan: hot bean sauce (辣豆瓣酱)

ot bean sauce" just does not cut it for me.  It sounds bland and unimaginative. Toubanjan is the name. It tastes just like its name: "Thud-bang-shhhaaa!!!" Your mouth stays widely gaping at this very open "a", while you are dashing around looking for some water to douse the fire.

I came across it in my student years in Japan and I call it by its Japanese name. However, t
his mighty sensual assault on your taste buds was invented in China's Southwest, Szechuan, as dou-ban-jiang (豆瓣酱).

There are two types of it: plain and spicy. I am no big fan of the plain version (it is just smelly and salty), but the spicy one la-dou-ban-jiang (
豆瓣酱) is one of my favourite condiments. It is indispensable in mapo dofu (麻婆豆腐), the Szechuan numbingly hot toufu, mince and aubergine stew, as well as dandan noodles (擔擔麵). I also like to top steamed rice with it when I am going through a cook's block. It works superbly plain as dressing for avocado.

Korean gochujang looks and tastes somewhat similar to it but had a different flavour because in Korea they use ground sticky rice instead of beans and the fermenting process is different.

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