Sweet bean sauce
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|Alternative names||Sweet flour 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|
|Traditional Chinese||甜麵醬 / 甜醬|
|Simplified Chinese||甜面酱 / 甜酱|
|Literal meaning||"sweet flour sauce" /
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-colored sauce or paste with mild, savory and sweetish taste. It is commonly used in Northern Chinese cuisine, as well as Korean Chinese cuisine. Peking duck and jajangmyeon are two popular dishes that utilize the sauce.
The Chinese word tiánmiànjiàng (甜面酱) consists of the characters meaning "sweet" (甜), "flour" (面), and "sauce" (酱). It is also called tiánjiàng (甜酱), which means "sweet sauce".
The Korean word chunjang (춘장) derived from the Korean reading of the latter Chinese word, cheomjang (첨장; 甛醬).
Although terms such as "sweet bean sauce" or "sweet bean paste" are used to describe the sauce, it is made primarily from fermented wheat flour. A mixture of approximately 19 parts wheat flour and only 1 part soybeans is used. The fermentation starter is made from dried, molded mantou (steamed bread) wrapped and bound with miangua (literally "flour fruit"; a variety of muskmelon) and hung in a cool, shaded area until completely dried. During the fermentation process, a sweet taste develops from the glucose and maltose.
Variations and uses
Similar to the better known hoisin sauce, sweet bean sauce is sometimes used in dishes such as Peking Duck and as a replacement for yellow soybean paste (黄酱; pinyin: huángjiàng) in zhajiang mian; in Beijing cuisine, yellow soybean paste is the traditional accompaniment for these two dishes. Sweet bean sauce is sweeter than yellow soybean paste, which is saltier. In Northern China, the sauce is also eaten with raw scallions.
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, 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).
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. 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 run by a Chinese immigrant from Shandong region of China, chunjang is similar to Shandong-style tiánmiànjiàng. However, it is more caramelized and more adapted to Korean taste, as are other Korean chinese dishes and ingredients.
- Hoisin sauce
- Peking duck
- List of condiments
- List of fermented soy products
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