Called tausi in the Philippines, fermented black beans are sold dried or soaked in brine. They are used to flavor steamed dishes, stews and an array of stir fries.
Know that they are not regular black beans. These are soybeans that have been fermented with salt and are, therefore, very salty. You can’t use them to make a pot of chili, for instance. You add them to a dish as a seasoning in pretty much the same way you’d use soy sauce or fish sauce.
Buying and storage
In the Philippines, tausi can be bought in small amounts in the wet market. Buy what you need for a dish and there’s no more storage issues to think about. If you cannot buy them in small amounts, here are some tips:
Since fermented black beans are sold in bags, jars or cans, unless you use them very often in homecooking, buy the smallest size available. If you still cannot consume everything in the smallest bag, jar or can, transfer the contents to a resealable bag or a container with a tight lid, and store in the fridge.
How long will stored black beans last? Check the instructions in the label for best results.
What makes fermented black beans so special as a seasoning?
It isn’t just saltiness that you add to a dish when you cook with fermented black beans. Because fermentation changes the chemical composition of food, they add a piquant aroma and a depth of savoriness to a cooked dish.
Is rinsing prior to use necessary?
If you’re planning on adding other salty seasonings to your dish, it is a better idea to rinse the beans first. That way, you are left with more of the umami and less of the saltiness.
Note also that, with some dishes, it is a better practice to bruise or pound the black beans.
How are fermented black beans different from black bean sauce?
With black bean sauce, the beans have been ground and, often, flavored as in the case of black bean garlic sauce. Other variants include ginger, chili or a combination of spices.
Black bean sauce is ready to use with no preparations required. Just scoop the contents of the jar (or can) and add to the dish.
Recipes with fermented black beans or sauce
- Drunken Chicken With Black Beans, Ginger and Garlic
- Tofu and Black Beans Stir Fry
- Steamed fish head with salted black beans
- Pork Ribs With Black Beans and Chili Sauce
- Ma Po tofu
- Humba (Filipino-style Red-braised Pork Belly)
Updated from a post originally published in January 22, 2008.