Top 9 Fermented Black Bean Dishes

Chinese dishes including this traditional ingredient

Not to be confused with the black beans found in Mexican cooking, Chinese fermented black beans (also called salted black beans) are made by fermenting dried soybeans in salt, and sometimes other flavors such as garlic, chilies, and ginger. It is a popular ingredient in Cantonese cuisine—such as in Cantonese lobster and shrimp in ​lobster sauce—which wouldn't be the same without the fermented black beans' strong flavor. They are most often rinsed to remove the salty taste before added to a recipe.

Here are 10 of the most popular Chinese recipes using fermented black beans—either the dried beans or a prepared sauce which can be found in the Asian section of supermarkets.

  • 01 of 09

    Lobster Cantonese

    Lobster Cantonese With Savory Sauce

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    The is a classic Cantonese dish in which lobster tails are simmered in a savory black bean mixture. The lobster meat is deep-fried and then added to a gravy made of fermented black beans, ground pork, ginger, sherry, soy sauce, and chicken stock. Scallions and a beaten egg are included at the end to finish this traditional dish.

  • 02 of 09

    Mapo Tofu (Mapo Dofu)

    Sichuan Mapo Tofu

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

    One of the most well-known dishes to come out of Szechuan province, the name Mapo Dofu is roughly translated as "pockmarked grandmother beancurd," in honor of the old woman rumored to have invented the dish. Marinated pork is stir-fried with mashed fermented beans, chili paste, tofu, chicken broth, leek and green onions. A cornstarch/water/soy sauce mixture is then stirred in before serving.

  • 03 of 09

    Beef With Spicy Black Bean Sauce

    Beef with spicy black bean sauce

    Alpha / Flickr / CC 2.0

    Marinated beef is stir-fried with a spicy mixture including fermented black beans and chili paste, which adds the heat. The beef is joined by vegetables such as celery, carrots, and scallion while the entire dish is enveloped in a delicious sauce.​

  • 04 of 09

    Spareribs With Black Bean Sauce

    Spareribs With Black Bean Sauce

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Spareribs are slowly simmered in savory black bean sauce with garlic. By using prepared black bean sauce instead of making it from scratch, this recipe will come together rather quickly. The spareribs are stir-fried, perhaps not the first cooking method you would think of when it comes to this cut of meat. But what results is a nicely browned rib that is then left to simmer until tender in the delicious sauce.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Beef and Peppers in Black Bean Sauce

    Chinese Beef and Peppers in Black Bean Sauce

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    This Cantonese home-cooked standard is an easy recipe of beef and bell peppers in a savory black bean sauce. You can marinate the beef overnight and cook it in a slow cooker to further tenderize the beef if you'd like. When using a lean cut of meat, this is a healthy recipe that is colorful and delicious. 

  • 06 of 09

    Stir-Fried Shrimp With Lobster Sauce

    Shrimp with lobster sauce

    jeffreyw / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Don't let the name fool you—there is no lobster to be found in this popular dish. Its name comes from the sauce, which is virtually identical to the sauce for Cantonese Lobster, featuring ground pork, fermented black beans, and sherry.

  • 07 of 09

    Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce

    Chinese Stir-Fry Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

    Got a yen for shrimp and savory black bean sauce but don't want to go to all the trouble of making shrimp with lobster sauce? Shrimp and red bell peppers are paired with pre-made black bean sauce in this easy stir-fry that is sure to satisfy.

  • 08 of 09

    Pork With Bitter Melon

    Stir-fried bitter gourd with pork
    Jen Voo Photography / Getty Images

    Salted Chinese black beans are more than able to hold their own against the strong flavor of bitter melon in this flavorful stir-fry. Bitter melon is actually a vegetable​ and is not for everyone considering it has a very strong chalky flavor. But when combined with pork and fermented black beans it makes for a traditional dish with unique flavors.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Chicken in Black Bean Sauce

    Chicken in black bean sauce

    Douglas_Freer / Getty Images 

    Tender and juicy chicken thighs are used in this recipe as they bring more flavor than white meat would. The chicken needs to be marinated in a soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil mixture, giving you plenty of time to prepare the vegetables and the remaining ingredients.