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Bean paste, or bean sauce, varies in color, texture, and composition and is a popular ingredient in many dishes in Asian cuisines. Some varieties of bean paste include miso, red bean paste, yellow bean paste, brown bean paste, and black bean paste. Most but not all bean paste or sauce products use one or more of these products as a base.


Miso (pronounced MEE-soh) is a dense bean paste made from soybeans and a grain such as barley or rice, fermented with yeast mold. This mixture is combined with salt and water and aged for a period of months or even years.
There are perhaps hundreds of types of miso, classed into two basic categories: shiro miso and aka miso. Shiro, or white, miso is on the sweeter side, whereas aka, or red, miso tends to be stronger and saltier. Miso is added to soups, broth, sauces, marinades, and dressings as a flavoring.

Red Bean Paste

This paste is prepared from cooked, sweetened and homogenised adzuki beans. The paste is commonly used in confection, sweet soups and deserts made in China, Japan and Korea. It has a starchy aspect which can be something that may not be relished the first few times by unfamiliar palates.

Yellow Bean Paste

Once again a starchy consistency but usually homogeneous. The paste is prepared from whole mung beans and is considered high fibrous food. It also is used in the making of deserts and confection.
The second yellow bean paste is another name for slty yellow brown soy paste or soybean sauce and this is used as a condiment.

Brown Bean Paste

Brown beans are fermented soy beans mixed with salt and flour. The paste of variable homogeneity, can then be mixed with various flavourants such as garlic or chillie or in fact other spices. This is also used as a cooking condiment

Black Bean Paste

Another condiment, with or without added flavourants. This sauce or paste is made from fermented black beans.

Products can usually be purchased at various Asian grocers or larger supermarkets. They may be packaged in tins or glass. The recommendation is to transfer tinned contents into a very clean glass jar.