Black bean sauce is an amazing addition to a variety of vegetarian options. Commonly used in Asian dishes, black bean sauce has a strong taste of garlic, and can be placed on many options for a wonderful kick to the meal. Made of fermented black soybeans, this sauce has notes of spicy, sweet, and salty that complements a wide variety of vegetables.
The main ingredients that contribute to the notoriously warm taste are ginger, garlic, sugar, and soy sauce, all which have given it its notable kick. Though the odor is sour, this popular spread can be used on a variety of dishes for a fun twist on the original flavor.
The best substitutes for black bean sauce are chili black bean sauce, miso, Vietnamese soybean paste, and oyster sauce.
1. Chili Black Bean Sauce
Chili black bean sauce is similar to garlic black bean sauce, but instead of fermented soybeans, it is made of fermented black beans. This substitution is significantly more common in noodle dishes, with 15-minute noodle dishes being very popular in Asian countries. Chili oil with black beans is also a very popular rendition of chili black bean sauce, and its very cheap to make.
Chili black bean sauce does not have the same pungent spice as the black bean sauce substitute, but it works well as a substitute due to similar levels of salt and similar texture. Arguably, adding some garlic could make it indistinguishable from its counterpart.
This substitute is expensive if it is not made at home, and a large pot of chili black bean sauce will run you about $33 dollars at Walmart.
Miso paste is like black bean sauce due to the presence of fermented soybeans, giving miso the same oddly sweet flavor that black bean sauce has. Miso paste is oddly mature tasting and lacks the spice that black bean sauce usually has. This can be easily resolved by adding a spice without a distinct taste, giving it the same kick as the original sauce.
Miso is also extremely spreadable due to the high fat content, making it an excellent addition to starchy carbs, as long as you don’t mind the high salt content. Ultimately, the type of miso that you use depends on your own personal taste, as white miso is usually sweet and mild, while red miso is extremely salty and mature.
In order to make miso taste more like black bean sauce, it’s a good idea to add a type of spice and the most prominent flavor, garlic. Miso is easy to access, and at about 6 dollars for a box of miso, its not very costly to store in your home.
3. Vietnamese Soybean Paste
Originating from southern Vietnam, fermented soybean paste is a Vietnamese condiment is made in a similar way as black bean paste, often adorned with a variety of flavors such as garlic. This makes it a perfect replacement for black bean sauce, as the versatility almost entirely matches while simultaneously being customizable enough to mimic the sauce.
Vietnamese soybean paste is a very deep red color and often has the soybeans whole inside them. It may be better to mash these up a bit in order to match the texture of the original sauce.
4. Oyster Sauce
Oyster sauce is a surprisingly versatile condiment that can be used as a substitution when texture is taken out of the picture. With vegetarian options available, oyster sauce can be added to noodles and vegetables if you’re entirely out of black bean sauce. Made with oyster (or liquid aminos, for a vegetarian option), salt, and soy sauce, oyster sauce is a very popular condiment in the US and Asia alike.
Oyster sauce tends to pair well with carbs and vegetables due to the savory and salty nature of the sauce, so using that as a substitute for black bean sauce should be relatively easy. Adding garlic is also totally available, making it taste even more similar to black bean sauce.
5. Hoisin Sauce
Hoisin sauce is a very unconventional but effective way to substitute for black bean sauce. The sauce is made of creamy peanut butter, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, five spice powder, and depending on who you ask, garlic.
Hoisin is distinguishable from the original sauce, but truthfully goes well with all of the same things that black bean sauce would go with. Hoisin sauce goes excellently with many vegetables, making it a good substitute for black bean sauce.