Cooking With Pixian Doubanjiang: Sichuan Sauce for Grilling & Roasting

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Steaks and peppers on a grill

A New ‘Cue

I’m not sure why I’d never thought before to add Pixian chili bean paste to my grilling marinade, because it’s a match made in BBQ heaven. Pixian doubanjiang is a combination of salt, spice and umami (in the form of fermented fava beans). Meat loves salt, most people reading this love spice, and everyone loves umami, so douban ticks all the boxes. It’s a BBQ sauce like you’ve never had before, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with any of those sensations, enhancing the meat without overwhelming it.

I kicked off the Cooking With Pixian Doubanjiang series with an easy and versatile Sichuan Sauce for Stir-Fry, and I had the same goals for this Sichuan Sauce for Grilling & Roasting. It’s quick to whip up, uses as few specialty ingredients as possible and is as good on chicken wings roasted in the oven as a skirt steak or pork shoulder steak fired on the grill.

As before, it’s about creating a balance of flavors to complement the salty-spice of doubanjiang, so I’ve added molasses-heavy dark soy sauce for sweetness (and color) and Zhenjiang black vinegar for acid along with roasted sesame oil for nutty richness.

Let me be clear that folks in Sichuan would most likely never use douban in this way, mainly because they don’t grill hunks of meat as we do. When they grill meat, it’s in tiny bites on skewers. They also wouldn’t roast chicken wings in an oven, since most Chinese don’t have an oven. But we in the West like our ovens and we like our steaks, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t introduce them to douban.

Grilling steaks and peppers
Summer grilling in the South. Is it Sichuan or Mexican? Or both?

It was husband’s idea to add poblano peppers to the grill along with the quick-marinated skirt steak, and it was a brilliant one. When I posted one of these photos on Instagram, a friend thought we were making Sichuan fajitas. We weren’t (we were serving Asian style with rice), but it’s a fantastic idea.

So the next time we used the marinade, which happened to be with pork shoulder steak, we made tacos. And they were really great. (If you’ve never grilled this cut of meat, do seek it out. It is the perfect combo of lean and fat for a quick grill and takes to marinade exceptionally well.) The flavorful meat totally worked inside a corn tortilla and didn’t need much to make a satisfying taco other than a bit of Sichuan quick-pickled cabbage and a quick creamy hot sauce (mayonnaise, habanero hot sauce and white rice vinegar or lime).

Super Sichuan Sauce for grilling pork steak
A pork shoulder steak with the super Sichuan sauce for grilling could be served on top of rice or  rice noodles or inside a tortilla
Tacaos made with Super Sichuan Sauce for grilling steak
We served this pork as tacos with a Sichuan quick-pickled cabbage and habanero mayonnaise. Not a great photo, but we were too hungry for photo styling…

Well, if it works that well on steak and pork, I thought, then why not chicken wings? For these I used the marinade as more of a BBQ sauce. I followed my usual wing-roasting procedure, but cooked the wings naked and then pulled them out of  the oven, tossed them in the marinade, and put them back in to get all toasty and caramelized for the final 10 minutes of cooking.

Sichuan sauce for grilling and roasting used on chicken wings
Put the sauce on the wings toward the end of roasting so it doesn’t burn
Sichuan sauce for grilling and roasting used on chicken wings
What more do you need than sticky-spicy wings and garlic smashed cucumbers?

You might have noticed I used some less expensive cuts of meat/poultry for this recipe, because that’s where a sauce really shines. What will you use this super Sichuan sauce on?

Read my first post for a Super Sichuan Stir-fry Sauce!

Cooking With Pixian Doubanjiang: Sichuan Sauce for Grilling & Roasting

By: Taylor Holliday | The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Sichuan Cooking

Ingredients 

Sauce: 1 tablespoon of each per pound of meat

  • Pixian doubanjiang (chili bean paste) (3-year preferred)
  • Chinese light soy sauce (Zhongba preferred)
  • Chinese dark soy sauce (Zhongba preferred)
  • Chinese black vinegar (Zhenjiang or Shanxi preferred)
  • toasted sesame oil
  • water

Instructions 

For skirt steak, pork shoulder steak or similar

  • Combine sauce ingredients in a large plastic baggie, using 1 tablespoon of each for each pound of meat. Add meat to bag and marinate 30 minutes to 1 hour. Wipe most of marinade off the steak, and grill per your usual method.

For chicken wings

  • Mix sauce ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a rack inside a sheet pan and spray it with cooking spray. (Line sheet pan with foil for easy clean-up.) Line up wings on the rack and roast in oven for 30 minutes.
  • Carefully add hot wings to sauce bowl and toss them to coat well. Use tongs to place wings back on the rack and return to oven. Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, until wings are well-caramelized and browned.

Tried this recipe?

About Taylor Holliday

The Mala Market all began when Taylor, a former journalist, created this blog as a place to document her adventures learning to cook Sichuan food for Fongchong, her recently adopted 11-year-old daughter. They discovered through the years that the secret to making food that tastes like it would in China is using the same ingredients that are used in China. The mother-daughter team eventually began visiting Sichuan’s factories and farms together and, in 2016, opened The Mala Market, America’s source for heritage Sichuan ingredients and Chinese pantry essentials.

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6 Comments

  1. So I tried this on grilled chicken wings last night. It was delicious. Usually I marinate chicken wings overnight using a Shanghai marinade (light soy, 5-spice, ginger, garlic, scallions, sesame oil). This marinade was originally intended for deep-fried wings, but I grill the wings instead. This Sichuan alternative is just as tasty and a lot more convenient, since there’s no overnight marinade.

    Bravo!

  2. I’m loving the fusion thang. (i.e. Mexican/Chinese….American) We used the doubanjiang in stir fry last night. Superb. What’s noteworthy is your cooking my favorite foods: pork shoulder, skirt steak and chicken wings. Yummy

    1. Thanks, my friend! Those cuts have so much flavor, and then the douban just amplifies it. Glad you agree!

  3. This is so slick! You just gave me a great idea for a snack to bring to a Thanksgiving party. I’ve been a fan of yours for years and it is truly a pleasure to see your skills/expertise and your market grow. Thanks for the recipes and ingredients!

    1. Somehow I missed this very kind comment. (The downside of growth is being stretched too thin.) But thank you so much! I hope it was yummy!