Fermented chile-garlic bean sauce (toban djan) will change your cooking life. You can marinate with it, use it as a rub, in a sauce or any way you can imagine. The fermented beans supply all the punch of authenticity and honesty you need to make some great Chinese food at home, starting with this recipe. I make it with veal, beef, shrimp or chicken, but it works so well with pork you should try that first.


  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine, such as Shaoxing, or sake
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 dried hot chiles
  • 3 scallions, minced
  • 1 lb. boneless pork shoulder, thinly sliced
  • ½ lb. asparagus, sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons toban djan, a fermented chile-bean sauce (see Note)
  • Steamed jasmine rice, for serving


In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of the rice wine. Place a large wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the oil to the wok and swirl until it starts to smoke. Add the ginger, garlic, sugar, dried chiles and scallions and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the pork and cook, stirring, until charred in spots, then add the asparagus and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the chili-bean sauce, the remaining 2 tablespoons of rice wine and the cornstarch slurry and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the pork and asparagus with chile-garlic sauce to a platter and serve with jasmine rice.


Toban djan is available at Asian markets or at unitednoodles.com.




Chinese stir-fry


Andrew Zimmern


4 servings





preparation times

• Total Time: 30 Minutes