How to Make Black Bean Sauce

Fermented black soybeans, or douchi, are a common ingredient in East Asian cuisine, adding a complex, salty bittersweetness to dishes. Douchi can be used as a base to create a flavorful black bean sauce in just a few minutes. Inspired by Food and Wine’s Bok Choy with Black Bean Sauce, minced garlic and ginger contribute bold, complementary flavors while red pepper flakes give the resulting sauce some heat. Use the finished sauce as a marinade or in stir-fries.

Start to Finish: 15 minutes

Servings: Around 3/4 cup

Difficulty Level: Beginner


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon jarred minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons fermented black beans, rinsed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water

Saute the Garlic and Ginger

Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers with heat, add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 to 45 seconds, until it is fragrant.

Simmer the Sauce

Add the fermented black beans, rice vinegar, soy sauce, chicken broth and a dash or two of red pepper flakes. Increase the heat to high to bring the ingredients to a boil. Once they are boiling, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer the sauce for two to three minutes, occasionally stirring. Meanwhile, combine the water and cornstarch in a bowl and stir until no lumps remain. Stir the cornstarch and water mixture into the pan and let everything simmer for an additional minute. The sauce will visibly thicken. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool slightly before serving it.

Substitutions and Variations

If you don’t have chicken broth on hand, use beef broth. Use vegetable broth to make the sauce vegetarian.

If you’re not a fan of hot pepper flakes, add a squirt of a hot sauce. Or if you’d prefer to tone down the heat, leave out the red pepper flakes or swap it for a sweet chili sauce.