Douchi and Hamma Natto

Most people know them as little, raisin looking salty and pungent black beans or fermented beans. They are also called douchi or taucho. They are typically made from soybeans, often black soybeans. You can also use the yellow soybeans but they will eventually turn black anyway.

There are also different ways to make them, using different cultures. We use koji, in this case Aspergillus sojae that is typically used for making soy sauce. If you make koji out of soybeans and use Aspergillus sojae it also makes a fine miso so it makes sense for us to just make a lot at the same time.

Kecap Manis Miso made with Hamma Natto and other ingredients. Like a Kinzanji style miso, everything was fermented together at the start. The results were stunning.

Only in rare situations do we use soy bean koji to make quick things – but stay tuned. You’ll want to try those things. We also always like to have black soybeans around for natto, especially if we can get really small ones.

After the beans are washed, soaked and cooked gently until still intact but not at all mushy, they are dusted with the koji. Just like when making amasake, after 48 hours at 90F you can either use them as fresh koji or keep sporulating them until they turn green then darker green.

With amasake if you keep it going it will be suitable to make sake or country style doboroku from in another day. Why not grab half of the amasake first, then continue and make a nice chilled beverage?

These black soybean douchi were then fermented wi†h fermented ginger and salty koji brine, and took about a year until complete. We also have a stunning hack for this process that produces as good beans.

These were dried during the summer – although you could use a dehydrator or even fans – then packed with chopped dried dates, chiles, the dried ginger from the earlier stage and a salty brine (20%).

After a day of macerating the beans will become like somewhat dry but still edible raisins, moist but not wet. Pack them into clean jars or crocks. They’ll last for at least a year. If you refrigerate them they will last for several years. You’ll eat them before that though.

We are serving ones made with a smoked brine before dehydrating at this upcoming event. They make an intense marinade, an unbelievable barbeque sauce base, and an addition to a nerumiso miso (either fermented with everything from the start, or as a simmered namemiso.

Dried Hamma Natto style (with koji) black soybeans going into a 15% sodium date brine that will make them last for a long time.

You can pretty easily pre-made Chinese style douchi at an Asian food store. It’s what they use in most Chinese restaurants in sauces that say with black bean sauce (and some that don’t even mention they are in there). But ask to be sure otherwise you could get a spicy bean paste sauce you might find overpowering. If you buy them they won’t ever look like a paste, but dried raisins.

As opposed to Japanese style hamma natto, Chinese shih will most likely be made the same way but with the mold washed off before brining and drying. This type (shih or douchi) are typically spicier and often have sugar. They aren’t typically fermented as long.

But, if you are pressed for time just follow the above technique – we use a brined date syrup and ginger – and pack them up. Throw a few into a stir fry of anything with some fresh hot peppers and garlic and you will be glad you did. Marinate shellfish or a strong fish such as mackerel or even smoked tempeh with these and grill them over indirect heat or broil.


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