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Fermented black beans

Other names: Chinese black beans, salty black beans, Glycine max

Fermented black beans, a Chinese specialty are actually fermented small black soybeans preserved in salt. The prepared beans are then packed in tins or plastic bags. They are quite salty and flavorful. Soak the beans for about 30 minutes in cold water and drain before using. Use them to flavor meat or fish dishes. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to a year.

Don't confuse these soy beans with the black beans you use for making chili which are an entirely different bean. Fermented black beans are one of the key ingredients in black bean sauce which can be purchased but you can easily make your own (see recipes).
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Substitute for fermented black beans

Black bean sauce

Fermented black beans are not available where I live (and there are no Asian stores, etc.), so I have two questions: 1. Are the fermented black beans black because they are a special variety of soy beans or are they regular soy beans but turn black because of the fermentation process? 2. Do you have instructions for MAKING the fermented black beans at home without having to get aspergillus oryzae (which is equally unavailable here)?  Certainly the ancient Chinese cooks who developed these dishes didn't have stores selling ready-made aspergillus oryzae cultures. Thank you.

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