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Homemade Black Bean Sauce

4.96 from 25 votes
This is one of the most versatile Chinese sauces that go well with almost any ingredients, and is also suitable for stir frying, baking, grilling, and steaming.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: sauce
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Maggie Zhu


  • 1 cup fermented black beans
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 white onion , minced
  • 4 to 6 dried chili peppers , torn to small pieces (*Footnote 1)
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry, or Japanese sake) (*Footnote 2)
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce (or soy sauce, or tamari for gluten-free option)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 head garlic (8 to 10 big cloves, minced (*Footnote 3)
  • 1 thumb ginger , minced (*Footnote 4)


  • Rinse fermented black beans with tap water, drain, and coarsely chop them. I like to leave some bigger pieces of the beans, to give the sauce more texture.
  • (Optional) You can use a food processor to mince all the ingredients. Add black beans, onion, and garlic into a food processor. Blend until both ingredients are minced, but not a fine paste.
  • Heat oil and dried chili peppers in a saucepan over medium heat until warm. Turn to medium low heat. Cook until the chili peppers turn dark, but not black. Stir occasionally. Scoop out the chili peppers and discard them.
  • Add the black beans and onion. Cook and stir, until the sauce looks a bit dry. (The beans will absorb oil at first, but release the oil once they’re cooked.)
  • Add Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, and sugar. Simmer and stir until the onion turns tender. It takes about 10 minutes or so. The sauce can be easily burned, so make sure to keep the heat low and stir the sauce constantly to ensure even cooking.
  • Add garlic and ginger (if you’re using these ingredients). Continue to cook and stir the sauce until the onion turns very tender. You should see oil floating on top of the sauce.
  • Transfer the sauce to a large bowl to cool off completely.
  • Store the sauce in an airtight jar in the fridge for 2 weeks to a month.


1. Unless you use very powerful chili peppers (such as Thai chili peppers), the sauce won’t become spicy. I only use this step to infuse more aroma to the sauce. I used Chinese dried chili peppers in this recipe, but Korean and Mexican dried chili peppers work too. If you do want a spicy sauce, consider blending in homemade chili oil to the cooked sauce, or add cayenne powder during cooking.
2. If you do not want alcohol in the sauce, you can skip this ingredient. I would not recommend using stock here because it shortens the shelf life. However, you can use 2 to 3 teaspoons of chicken bouillon powder if you want to add extra flavor to the sauce.
3. You can use a garlic press to mince garlic faster.
4. Ginger is not a must-have ingredient, but if you happen to have it on hand, definitely use it. It adds nice aroma to the sauce.