Sweet bean sauce

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Not to be confused with sweet bean paste.
Sweet bean sauce
A small dish of sweet bean sauce
Alternative names Sweet flour sauce
Type Sauce
Place of origin China
Region or state Northern and Northeastern China, South Korea
Associated national cuisine Chinese cuisine
Korean Chinese cuisine
Main ingredients Flour, salt
Ingredients generally used Soybean
Cookbook: Sweet bean sauce  Media: Sweet bean sauce
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
Hangul 춘장

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


The Chinese word tiánmiànjiàng (甜面酱) consists of characters meaning "sweet" (), "flour" (), and "sauce" (). It is also called tiánjiàng (甜酱), which means "sweet sauce". The Korean word chunjang (춘장) derives from the word cheomjang (첨장; 甛醬).


Although terms such as "sweet bean sauce" or "sweet bean paste" are used to describe the sauce, it is primarily made from fermented wheat flour. A mixture of approximately 19 servings of wheat flour and 1 soybean serving is used.[3] The fermentation starter is made from dried, molded mantou (steamed bread)[1] wrapped and bound with miangua (literally "flour fruit"; a variety of muskmelon) and hung in a cool, shaded area until completely dried.[3] During the fermentation process, a sweet taste develops from the glucose and maltose.[4]

Variations and uses[edit]

Chinese varieties[edit]

Similar to the better known hoisin sauce, sweet bean sauce is sometimes used in dishes such as Peking Duck. It is also used as substitute for yellow soybean paste. Sweet bean sauce is sweeter than yellow soybean paste (which is saltier). In Northern China, the sauce is also eaten with raw scallions.[3]

There are many different types of sweet bean sauces depending on the different compositions and the different methods of production, and each variation represents the local style of a particular region. Even within the same geographical region, different manufacturers produce different kinds of sweet bean sauce. For example, in northern China, the amount of sugar added in production is far less than in southern China[citation needed], while the usage of mantou flour as the main ingredient is a much more common practice. Traditionally, in these regions, a brand of sweet bean sauce is considered top quality when its sweet taste results not from the addition of sugar, but as a direct result of the fermentation of the starches contained in the sauce's ingredients.

Sweet bean sauce can be found in typical Asian supermarkets under various English names, but with the same Chinese name (Simplified Chinese:甜面酱; Traditional Chinese: 甜麵醬).

Korean chunjang[edit]

In Korea, chunjang is used primarily to make jajang (stir-fried and caramelized chunjang), the black gravy used in jajangmyeon (noodles with jajang sauce) and other dishes such as jajang-bap (rice with jajang sauce), jajang-tteok-bokki (stir-fried rice cakes with jajang sauce), and so on.[5] In Korean Chinese restaurants, chunjang is also served as it is with sliced raw onions.

As the first jajangmyeon was sold in a restaurant in Incheon Chinatown, one run by a Chinese immigrant from the Shandong region of China, chunjang is similar to Shandong-style tiánmiànjiàng.[6] However, it is more caramelized and more adapted to Korean taste, as are other Korean chinese dishes and ingredients.[5][7]


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. ^ a b c Shiu-ying, Hu (2005). Food Plants of China. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press. p. 39. ISBN 9629962292. 
  4. ^ Zhu, Maggie (4 December 2014). "Sweet Bean Sauce (甜面酱)". Omnivore's Cookbook. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Sifton, Sam (31 March 2016). "A Korean Noodle Dish for Lonely Hearts". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Kayal, Michele (14 January 2014). "Traditional Chinese New Year fare symbolic". Associated Press. Retrieved 10 March 2017 – via Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.