Beans are a Chinese cooking staple.
Although many people don’t commonly associate legumes other than peanuts with certain styles of Chinese cooking, fava beans, soybeans and black soybeans are used commonly across regional cuisines to impart distinct flavor, umami and body to dishes. Fava beans, or broad beans, are particularly common in the cuisines of northeast China. They’re used as the base for sauces—like doubanjiang—or to make noodles. Fermenting or toasting beans is an extra step that can amplify the flavors of a bean-based sauce, making it more robust, pungent or mildly sweet.