I didn’t discovered these beans until I left home for Georgia in 2005. At first, I thought it had a repulsive smell and how can anyone eat this. Yet my mom packed it in with the rest of my Chinese go-away gift basket.
At Georgia, there weren’t many Chinese restaurants to choose from, so I opened both Barbara Tropp’s The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking and my basket. I found her recipe for Hot and Sour Hunan Chicken. Thus, fell in love with the salted black beans.
The process is boiling or simmering black soybeans until soft, inoculating them with an Aspergillus oryzae mold, the covering them with a brining solution for six months, with shreds of ginger or orange peel or a dash of five-spice powder occasionally added to season the beans in the final soaking stage. My choice is Pearl River Brand.
Some recipes call for the beans to be rinsed off because it will oversalt the dish. I’ve found, there is not much a difference and its based on your preference.