Tianmian sauce

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Tianmian sauce
A dish of tianmian sauce
Alternative namesSweet flour sauce
Place of originChina
Region or stateNorthern and Northeastern China, South Korea
Associated cuisineChinese cuisine
Korean-Chinese cuisine
Main ingredientsFlour, salt
Ingredients generally usedSoybean
Regional names
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese甜麵醬 / 甜醬
Simplified Chinese甜面酱 / 甜酱
Literal meaning"sweet flour sauce" /
"sweet sauce"
Korean name

Tianmian sauce (traditional Chinese: 甜麵醬/甜醬; simplified Chinese: 甜面酱/甜酱; pinyin: tiánmiànjiàng or tiánjiàng), also known as sweet bean sauce, sweet flour sauce or sweet wheat paste, is a thick, smooth, dark brown or black paste with either a mild, savory or sweet flavor. It is commonly used in Northern Chinese cuisine, Northeastern Chinese cuisine,[1] as well as Korean-Chinese cuisine.[2] Peking duck and jajangmyeon are two popular dishes that feature the sauce.


The Chinese word tiánmiànjiàng (甜麵醬) consists of characters meaning "sweet" (), "flour" (), and "sauce" (). It is also called tiánjiàng (甜醬), which means "sweet sauce". The origin of the Korean word chunjang (춘장) is unknown.[3] One theory is that it derived from the word cheomjang (첨장), which is the Korean reading of the Chinese characters 甛醬.[4]


Although terms such as "sweet bean sauce" and "sweet bean paste" are used to describe the sauce, it is primarily made from fermented wheat flour. A mixture of approximately 19 portions of wheat flour to one portion of soybean is used.[5][clarification needed] The fermentation starter is made from dried or stale mantou (a steamed bread), wrapped in a variety of muskmelon known as miangua and then bound and hung in a cool, dark place until completely dried.[5][1] During the fermentation process, the glucose and maltose give the paste its distinctive sweet taste.[6]

Variations and uses[edit]

Chinese varieties[edit]

Similar to hoisin sauce, sweet bean sauce may be used in dishes such as Peking duck. It is also used as a sweeter substitute for saltier yellow soybean paste. In Northern China, the sauce is also eaten with raw scallions.[5]

There are many different types of sweet bean sauces. Recipes and methods of production vary depending on the geographical region and on manufacturer preferences. In northern China, more sugar is added to the sauce.[citation needed] In southern China, mantou flour instead of sugar is commonly used as the main ingredient. Traditionally, high-quality sweet bean sauces owe their sweet flavor to the fermentation of starches rather than to the addition of refined sugar.

Sweet bean sauce can be found in standard Asian supermarkets under various English names. In Chinese, it is written 甜面酱.

Korean chunjang[edit]


In Korea, chunjang (춘장) is most commonly used to make jajang (자장), a black gravy served with a popular noodle dish called jajangmyeon. Other common dishes with jajang sauce include jajang-bap ("rice with jajang sauce") and jajang-tteok-bokki (stir-fried rice cakes with jajang sauce).[7] Although stir-frying chunjang to make jajang is the most common use for the sauce, chunjang may also be served as an accompaniment to sliced raw onions. In most Korean-Chinese restaurants, raw onions, chunjang, and danmuji (yellow pickled radish) are the basic side dishes.

Korean chunjang is similar to the Shandong-style tiánmiànjiàng, as it was first used in Incheon Chinatown, where the majority of restaurants were run by Chinese immigrants from Shandong.[8] However, now most Korean-Chinese restaurants are run by Koreans, and chunjang has adapted to Korean tastes, as have other Korean-Chinese dishes and ingredients.[7][9]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Phillips, Carolyn (2016). All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China (Unabridged ed.). New York: Ten Speed Press. p. 490. ISBN 9781607749820.
  2. ^ Lee, Cecilia Hae-Jin (2 September 2015). "A Chinese-Korean mashup? Here are 5 restaurants to try in L.A." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  3. ^ 황, 광해 (1 April 2015). "[주간한국] [이야기가 있는 맛집(169)] 짜장면(1)". Hankook Ilbo (in Korean). Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  4. ^ 황, 광해 (29 February 2012). "[이야기가 있는 맛집] 짜장면, 생일·졸업 추억을 함께한 '국민음식'". Hankook Ilbo (in Korean). Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Shiu-ying, Hu (2005). Food Plants of China. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press. p. 39. ISBN 9629962292.
  6. ^ Zhu, Maggie (4 December 2014). "Sweet Bean Sauce (甜面酱)". Omnivore's Cookbook. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b Sifton, Sam (31 March 2016). "A Korean Noodle Dish for Lonely Hearts". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  8. ^ Ember, Melvin; Ember, Carol R.; Skoggard, Ian, eds. (2005). Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World. New York: Springer Publishing. p. 691. ISBN 0-306-48321-1.
  9. ^ Kayal, Michele (14 January 2014). "Traditional Chinese New Year fare symbolic". Associated Press. Retrieved 10 March 2017 – via Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.