Fermented black beans
Chinese salted, fermented black beans are a common seasoning — important for dishes such as Sichuan hot-pot, ma-po tofu, and beef with black bean; or in sauces like hoisin, or chili sauce. They have a strong, complex taste, packed with umami. They’re meant to be combined in recipes with other strong flavours, like garlic or chili. But, it’s impossible to resist nibbling on one or two.
The dry packed beans are infintely better than any of the poxy premade sauces you can find. Most of these sauces are mostly water, anyway. If you want to get the full, rich taste of black beans in your cooking, buy the packs, or the cans. It’s quick, and easy, to make a paste with black bean, garlic and soy sauce to use with meat or vegetables.
These beans are nearly indestructible, and literally last for years (sealed) in the cupboard. Because we usually only use a few tablespoons at a time, a bag lasts forever. In fact, they even turn up in archaeological digs from over 2000 years ago! You can find them easily in Asian markets, or on Amazon.