Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Black bean paste

Black bean paste, commonly called ''dòu shā'' or ''hěi dóu shā'' , is a sweet bean paste often used as a filling in cakes such as mooncakes or ''doushabao'' in many and cuisines.

Black bean paste is made from pulverized mung beans, combined with ''zao fan'' crystal .

Black bean paste is similar to the more well-known red bean paste. The recorded history of black bean paste goes as far back as the Ming Dynasty.

Five Chinese cereals

The Five Chinese cereals are a group of five grains important in ancient China and regarded as sacred. They are first listed in Fah Shên-chih's text on farming circa 2800 BCE entitled ''Fah Shên-chih Shu''.

There are various versions of which five crops are represented in the list. One version includes soybeans, rice, wheat, proso millet, and foxtail millet. Another version, given in the Classic of Rites, excludes rice and includes hemp. All but soybeans are cereal grains.

The ancient Chinese gave them their own god, Houji .

Facing heaven pepper

The facing heaven pepper is a cone-shaped, medium-hot chili pepper with very thin skin, between 3 and 6 centimeters in length, and 1 to 2 centimeters in diameter at the base. Originally from the Sichuan province in Southwest China, it owes its name to the fact that it grows upside down. Facing heaven is the second most widely used chili in Chinese cuisine . Because of its attractive appearance, the dried chili is often added to dishes whole . When lightly fried in oil it turns radiant red and loses enough of its heat to allow for it to be eaten whole. In China smaller chilies generally cost more than larger ones, because of their better color and more regular shape. Because of import restrictions
Facing Heaven chilies are difficult to find in the United States, but they are available in Chinese and specialty stores in Europe.

Euryale ferox

Euryale ferox is the only species in the genus Euryale. It is a flowering plant classified in the water lily family, Nymphaeaceae, although it is occasionally regarded as a distinct family Euryalaceae. Unlike other water lilies, the pollen grains of ''Euryale'' have three .

''Euryale'' is an annual plant native to eastern Asia, and is found from India to Korea and Japan, as well as parts of eastern Russia. It grows in water, producing bright purple flowers. The are large and round, often more than a meter across, with a a leaf stalk attached in the center of the lower surface. The underside of the leaf is purplish, while the upper surface is green. The leaves have a quilted texture, although the stems, flowers, and leaves which float on the surface are covered in sharp prickles. Other leaves are submerged.


The plant produces starchy white seeds, and the seeds are edible. The plant is cultivated for its seeds More than 96,000 hectares of Bihar, India, were set aside for cultivation of ''Euryale'' in 1990-1991. The plant does best in locations with hot, dry summers and cold winters. Seeds are collected in the late summer and early autumn, and may be eaten raw or cooked. In , the plant is called ''qiàn shí'' . Its edible seeds are used in traditional Chinese medicine, where they are often cooked in soups along with other ingredients, and believed to strengthen male potency and retard aging. In India, particularly in the northern and western parts of the country, ''Euryale ferox'' seeds are often roasted or fried, which causes them to pop like popcorn. These are then eaten, often with a sprinkling of oil and spices.

The name ''Euryale'' comes from the mythical Greek Gorgon by the same name. The Soviet Union issued a postage stamp featuring this species.


is a preparation of baby soybeans in the pod commonly found in China and Japan. The pods are boiled in water together with condiments such as salt, and served whole.

Outside East Asia, the dish is most often found in Japanese restaurants and some Chinese restaurants, but has also found popularity elsewhere as a healthy food item.


The Japanese name ''edamame'' is commonly used in some -speaking countries to refer to the dish. The Japanese name literally means "twig bean", and is a reference to the short stem attached to the pod. This term originally referred to young soybeans in general. Over time, however, the prevalence of the salt-boiled preparation meant that the term ''edamame'' now often refers specifically to this dish.

In , young soybeans are known as ''maodou'' . Young soybeans in the pod are known as ''maodoujia'' . Because boiling in the pod is the usual preparation for young soybeans, the dish is usually identified via a descriptive name, such as "boiled ''maodou''", or "salt-boiled ''maodou''", depending on the condiments added, but like in Japan, simply saying the name of the bean, maodou, in a Chinese restaurant will produce salt-flavored, boiled maodou.


Green soybeans in the pod are picked before they ripen. The ends of the pod may be cut before boiling or steaming.

The pods are then boiled in water or steamed. The most common preparation uses salt for taste. The salt may either be dissolved in the boiling water before introducing the soybean pods, or it may be added after the pods have been cooked.

Other condiments can also be used. ''Jiuzao'' , made from the highly fermented grain residue left over from the distilling of rice wine, can be used to add fragrance and flavor. Some recipes also call for Sichuan pepper for taste. Five-spice powder can also be used for flavoring.

Boiled soybean pods are usually served after cooling, but can also be served hot.

The beans are consumed by using one's teeth to squeeze them out of the pod. The pod itself is discarded.

The United States Department of Agriculture states that edamame are "a soybean that can be eaten fresh and is best known as a snack with a nutritional punch".


Fiber-rich carbohydrates such as edamame help prevent mood fluctuations by keeping blood-sugar levels steady. Edamame also contains protein, which further helps stabilize blood sugar, and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to combat depression .

Edamame beans contain higher levels of abscissic acid, sucrose, protein than other types of soybean. They also contain a high source of vitamin A, vitamin B and calcium.

Dried shrimp

Dried shrimp are shrimp that have been sun dried and shrunk to a thumbnail size. They are used primarily in Chinese cuisine, imparting a unique umami taste. A handful of shrimp are generally used for dishes. When cooked, the flavor is released as an ingredient. Despite the literal meaning of the name "shrimp rice", it has nothing to do with rice other than the fact that the shrimp are shrunk to a tiny size similar to grains of rice.


In East Asia

In Chinese cuisine, dried shrimp are used quite frequently for their sweet and unique flavor that is very different from fresh shrimp. They have the coveted umami flavor . It is an ingredient in the Cantonese XO sauce. Dried shrimp are also used in Chinese soups and braised dishes. It is also featured in Cantonese cuisine, particularly in some dim sum dishes such as rolled and rice noodle roll and in ''zongzi''.

Dried shrimp are also used in Korean cuisine, where they are soaked briefly to reconstitute them, and are then stir-fried with seasonings--typically garlic, ginger, scallions, , sugar, and hot peppers--and served as a side dish. It is called ''"mareunsaeu bokkeum"'' in . They are also used in some Korean braised dishes and used for making broth.

In Southeast Asia

In countries like Malaysia, shrimps are used to make a condiment called ''sambal udang'' . In Southeast Asia, prawns and shrimps are distinguished by their size and therefore it is not practical to make ''sambal udang'' with prawns. The Malay people developed ''sambal udang'', which uses fresh shrimp and is wetter, while the Chinese living in Southeast Asia, especially those of Peranakan descent, developed ''sambal udang kering'', which uses dried shrimp, is drier, and can be served as pub grub. Most major supermarkets in Malaysia and Singapore sell fresh shrimp from which the shells have already been removed.

Known as ???????? in Thai cuisine, dried shrimp is used extensively with chilies and Thai herbs to produce chili paste and various types of curry paste. Dried shrimp is also used as is in Northeastern dishes such as somtam.

Dried shrimp paste, called ''kapi'' , is also eaten in Thailand.

They are also used in Vietnamese cuisine, where they are called ''t?m kh?'', and are used in soups and in fried rice.


Douchi , also called Chinese fermented black beans, is a flavoring most popular in the cuisine of China, and is used to make black bean sauce.

''Douchi'' is made by and salting soybeans. The process turns the beans black, soft, and mostly dry. The flavor is sharp, pungent, and spicy in smell, with a taste that is salty and somewhat bitter and sweet.

''Douchi'' should not be confused with , a variety of common bean that is commonly used in the cuisines of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

In , ''douchi'' is also referred to by the same kanji and pronounced as ''touchi''.

The process and product are similar to ''ogiri'' and ''iru'', both being African fermented bean products.


Douchi is especially used to flavor fish or vegetables . Unlike some other fermented soybean-based foods such as natto or tempeh, ''douchi'' is used only as a seasoning, and is not meant to be consumed in large quantities, being typically much more salty.

Small packets of ''douchi'' are available wherever Chinese foods are sold.

Some common dishes made with ''douchi'' are Steamed Spare ribs with Fermented Black Beans and Chili Pepper , and Braised Mud Carp with Fermented Black Beans .

Black bean paste

In Chinese cuisine, a condiment called black bean paste or black bean garlic sauce is made from ''douchi'', as well as garlic and soy sauce, a typical combination used for seasoning a dish. This paste is commercially available in glass jars from companies such as Lee Kum Kee, although most Chinese restaurant chefs prefer to use actual ''douchi'' to prepare such sauces rather than using commercially available black bean paste.