What can I use instead of bean paste? The best bean paste alternatives include miso paste, Tianmian sauce, Hoisin sauce, plum and soy sauce, and oyster sauce. You can also use other bean paste varieties to substitute one another, including red, yellow, black, and brown bean paste. Lastly, try whipping up a homemade bean paste.
Bean paste, or bean sauce, is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, adding a touch of umami to dishes. The composition, color, and texture often vary; most varieties include red, yellow, black, and brown bean paste. Here are the best alternatives to mimic the authentic Asian flavor of bean paste if your pantry store is depleted.
The Best Bean Paste Substitutes
Miso paste is a Japanese staple that serves as an excellent alternative to bean paste.
The term “miso” means fermented beans. Miso paste is cultured from fermented soybeans, grain (mostly rice or barley), koji (a type of mold), and salt.
The paste offers an ultra-savory, umami flavor profile that adds a lovely depth to dishes.
Depending on the variety, miso paste can be smooth or chunky and wildly varies in texture, flavor, and color.
For example, white miso is lighter and sweeter in flavor than its dark red counterpart, which boasts a funkier and saltier taste.
Replace bean paste with white miso paste when making dressings or sweeter marinades and sauces. Then, switch to dark miso paste when brazing meat or making stew, soup, and broth.
Tianmian sauce is a sweet bean sauce or sweet wheat paste that you can use interchangeably with bean paste.
Sweet bean sauce is a vital ingredient in many Asian cuisine dishes. It is a thick, dark brown paste made from wheat flour, salt, sugar, and sometimes fermented soybeans.
Tianmian sauce boasts a sweet and savory umami flavor, allowing you to use it as a bean paste alternative in Asian-inspired recipes.
We recommend using a tad less sugar than the recipe calls for when using Tianmian sauce instead of bean paste to counteract the extra sweetness of the sweet bean sauce.
Hoisin sauce – the Chinese barbeque sauce – is slightly sweeter than bean paste, but it works as an excellent replacement if you don’t have bean paste.
Hoisin sauce is made from soybean paste, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, chili, and sweetener. The sauce is a thick, intensely flavorful sauce with a dark color and sweet, tangy, spicy, and soy saltiness.
You’ll find that Hoisin sauce has a spicier kick and slightly sweeter taste rather than the salty, umami boost of bean sauce.
However, the Hoisin sauce’s thick texture perfectly matches the bean paste’s consistency. Therefore, you can replace bean paste with Hoisin sauce when making a glaze, dipping sauce, or marinade.
Oyster sauce boasts earthy, sweet, savory, and salty flavors, and a thick, syrupy consistency, allowing you to use it as a substitute for bean paste.
Oyster sauce will capture the flavors and texture of bean paste in your Asian-inspired recipes.
Oyster sauce primarily comes from oyster juice, salt, sugar, and corn starch. It has a somewhat thick and syrupy consistency and umami flavors. It has a pungent taste, so use it sparingly when substituting bean paste.
Use oyster sauce instead of bean paste for stir-fries, marinades, or dipping sauces.
Plums and Soy Sauce
A sweet combination of stewed plums and soy sauce blend meticulously well, creating the perfect substitute for bean paste.
Plums and soy sauce offer a somewhat savory and sweet blend that mimics the versatile flavor of bean sauce.
Make homemade plum and soy sauce by boiling the plums is water and sugar. Later add the soy sauce along with some fresh garlic and spices.
You can also add corn starch at the end to create a thicker consistency.
Other Bean Paste Varieties
While the flavors vary, you can substitute bean paste for a different variety to ensure you achieve a similar consistency in your dish.
Red bean (made from adzuki beans) and yellow bean (made from mung beans) paste have similar textures, and both work well in desserts and sweet items.
You can use the two varieties interchangeably.
Brown bean paste (made from fermented soybeans) and black bean paste (made from salt-preserved and fermented soybeans) are delicious in stir-fries, veggies, tofu dishes, and glazes or marinades for duck, pork, and fish.
Both varieties range from smooth to chunky so you can use them interchangeably.
Homemade Bean Paste
Making homemade bean paste from scratch is simpler than you think. You only need your preferred bean variety (adzuki, mung, or soybeans), sugar, water, salt, and your preferred spices.
There’s no strict rule. Like peanut butter, you can make a chunky or smooth texture, depending on your preference.
First, boil the beans in water and sugar. After cooking, pass the beans through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the skins or pop them in the food processor or blender for quick results.
Transfer the paste to a pot and add salt and sugar to taste for a sweet red or yellow bean paste. If you make fermented brown or black bean paste, add some garlic, onions, oil, ginger, and spices to the food processor.
Reduce the bean paste until it reaches the desired thickness. Then, transfer the bean paste to an airtight container and use it within a month.