Taucho Pesto



Fermented black beans, also called shih or taucho, can be made with different cultures. The most common type is made with Aspergillus sojae. But they can also be made with Bacillus subtilis, a useful and ubiquitous bacteria that secretes enzymes that are very widely used on food processing as well as other industrial applications.

When beans or someone other substance such as seeds or nuts or grains are made with B.subtilis they are known by different names based on the country they are made in. Almost every country in the world has a ferment that uses Bacillus subtilis one way or another. It’s a very common alkaline ferment.

In Japan, for example, small black soybeans or small yellow soybeans (both a species of legume called Glycine max) are inoculated with B.subtilis they are called natto. But there are many different types of natto with different names depending on the size of the bean used, whether the outcome is dried, and even if the beans used were pieces instead of whole beans.

And, like everything else, sometimes things have names based entirely on where in Japan they were made, and of course what you do with them. In future posts we’ll describe how to make a great miso using natto (なっとう)、as well as a few other things you’ll like as much as this. We made a pizza with this the other day with this taucu pesto.

Taucho is the name used in Malaysia. They also make a taucho manis, a beloved sweet version that finds a use in just about everything. Most people know the word kecap manis, which is a version of very sweet soy sauce that used to be made with fermented black beans. Yeah, we have a recipe for that.



After making natto from black soybeans and other ingredients, we decided that after two months at 34F they really smelled exactly like Parmiggiano-Reggiano. Or maybe an aged Romano cheese.

That all changed, however, when we decide to dehydrate them to make several dishes. After the first four hours of the most intense cheese smell they started to have background notes of maturing protein. As in ammonia. After 16 hours of open windows they were finally done.


Cheese Raisins?

They tasted great. So we decided to make a special pesto type sauce that can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a year. It makes about four cups (or 1900 grams).

Two to 3 tablespoons on a plate of pasta, or mounted in a sauce, or used as a marinade ups the flavor and protein level of just about anything. Obviously a great topping for bean soup or any stew.


  • 113 grams dried black natto (or fermented black beans)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sake or white wine (optional)
  • 76 grams nutritional yeast
  • 4 cups or 265 grams dried tomatoes (sun dried work as well)
  • 1 cup or 100 grams dried onions (or 2 cups minced and cooked down until brown)
  • 1 cup or 60 grams dried celery
  • 1 1/4 cup or 240 grams of mirin (the alcoholic one) or water
  • 4 TB oregano

Mix all ingredients together and let sit overnight or a day.


  • 1 cup or 115 grams raw, trimmed garlic cloves
  • 2 cups or 410 grams light olive oil
  • 2 cups or 525 grams of thick, salted basil puree
  • Above mix from 24 hours ago

Fresh basil and salt from the Sumer of 2019

Fry the finely minced or pureed fresh garlic cloves, trimmed of the stem ends, gently in the heated oil. Add the mixed ingredients from the day before to the hot garlic and oil. Cook gently for 15 minutes stirring constantly. The alcohol will cook off while helping to preserve the mixture. Add the basil and salt puree and cook for a minute.

Let cool, stirring as it cools down to ensure all the oil gets mixed in evenly. Refrigerate. Last at least 6 months, 12 months if well refrigerated. Makes about 3 pints.


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