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Nyonya Ingredients: Taucheo (Soy Bean Paste)

August 4th, 2009Ingredients19 Comments
Taucheo (Soy Bean Paste/Bean Sauce)
Taucheo (Soy Bean Paste/Bean Sauce) pictures (1 of 3)

There are many ingredients used in Nyonya recipes–some common while others are exotic and unknown ingredients to many foreigners. As mentioned in “Introduction to Nyonya Food,” Nyonya cuisine is the result of mixing Chinese ingredients to local produce, spices, herbs, and roots to create the exotic flavors. Hence, I have started a “Nyonya Ingredients” series to cover all essential ingredients used in Nyonya food.

Chinese ingredients are core to many Nyonya recipes, for example: taucheo/preserved soy bean paste or 豆酱 (doujiang) in Chinese language. (In Indonesia, taucheo is called tauco.) Taucheo or soy bean paste is made from yellow soy beans. The yellow beans are salted and fermented, much like the process of making soy sauce. There are a few variations of taucheo in the market: whole beans, half-mashed, or fine.  The difference is in the texture of the fermented soy beans. I always buy the ones in between (as pictured above), where the soy beans are somewhat mashed up due to the fermenting process but not processed to fine paste. You can always use a mortar and pestle to break up the fermented soy beans for recipes that call for fine texture…

Taucheo is salty, but very flavorful with a smokey and somewhat yeasty aroma. It delivers a depth that can’t be found in regular salt. Taucheo is used generously in many Nyonya recipes such as stewed pork ribs, meat, tofu, and many seafood dishes. It’s an indispensable Nyonya ingredient.

In the United States, you can find taucheo in all Asian markets. It’s often labeled as “perserved soy bean paste,”  “bean paste,” or “bean sauce.”  You can find various products made in Malaysia, Singapore, China, or Hong Kong. When choosing taucheo, I always look for the ones with light brown color. In the picture above, the product is also labeled in Vietnamese as taucheo is commonly used in Vietnamese cuisine.

Taucheo keeps well at room temperature for a couple of months, but I keep mine in the refrigerator. When you first open a new bottle, there is always a layer of dark oxidized deposit at the top of the bottle. Discard the top layer and use the fresh taucheo beneath it.

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19 comments... read them below or add one

  1. veron says:

    I think I’ve seen this! I was looking for tausi and I saw bottles of this and was wondering where can I use fermented bean paste? Now I know. And you know I love pork ribs!

    1
  2. Kearns says:

    I can’t find this. I’ve scoured the shelves of the Korean and Chinese supermarkets, but there are far too many fermented soy products for me to determine what I’m really looking for. And I NEED this so my wife can make Coto Makassar!

    2
    • Nyonya Food says:

      Kearns – well, it’s not easy to find, they are always hidden in lower racks. It might be labeled as bean paste, bean sauce, fermented bean paste, or if they are from Malaysia or Singapore, they will be labeled as taucheo. Good luck!

      2.1
  3. Kristen says:

    This is a fantastic site! How cool that you can educate the world, or at least the culinary world, about your heritage. I look forward to learning more and trying some of your dishes.

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  4. Victor says:

    I have never seen this brand before, in Hobart or even in Sydney when I used to live there. Is it a Malaysian brand? I buy the Yeo’s brand, whole soy beans which I mashed using the back of a tablespoon in a shallow bowl.

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    • Nyonya Food says:

      This is a Chinese brand, from China. I actually don’t like the Yeo’s brand because it’s too salty for my taste, and also the soy beans are whole, which means they might not be fermented enough. I like the beans slightly broken up by the natural process.

      4.1
  5. cherie says:

    Love Nyonya cuisine. Had something new every day, while I was in Singapore.
    My favourite was a rich chicken stew with black nuts and cabbage. Ring a bell?

    5
    • Nyonya Food says:

      Cherie – no, actually no because southern part of Nyonya food is different from Penang Nyonya food.

      5.1
  6. npm says:

    I really admire what you’ve done with Rasa Malaysia and now, Nyonyafood.com. What a spectacular effort & time invested on your part. It is great that you also introduced a major ingredient, taucheo, that’s widely used in Nyonya food. On behalf of all the 100% or 75% or 50% or 25% Babas & Nyonyas out there everywhere in the world, I applaud you. Look forward to more great Nyonya stuff here!

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  7. Guindilla says:

    Hi,

    Does it have any similarities with miso paste?

    Nice site!

    Cheers.

    7
    • Nyonya Food says:

      Miso paste is basically the Japanese version of Chinese bean paste and it was introduced to Japan from China, but miso paste is ground into paste and dryer compared to bean paste.

      7.1
  8. sts says:

    I see a lot of interesting posts here. Bookmarked for future referrence.

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  9. Peter Kong says:

    There is another version of taucheo that is a black paste.

    I use it in a special recipe of mine to cook green chillies (sliced lengthwise into two, de-seeded and cut into quarters if they are long) in pork oil with the crispy pork fat and peeled prawns. My children and son-in-law and daughter-in-law love it especially the prawns.

    I wonder how many readers have tasted this dish before. It is not common.

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