Food Trivia Question from the Oriental Oasis Newsletter
TRIVIA QUESTION: My name refers to either a Mexican ingredient featured in a soup that bears my name, or a Chinese ingredient that has been featured in Chinese dishes since the Han dynasty (in the 2nd century BC). Unlike my Mexican counterpart, I am salted. Used extensively in southern Chinese cooking, I am one of the main ingredients in "lobster sauce," a dish that actually doesn't contain lobster at all. I am important enough to rate a mention in "Essential Skills for the Daily Life of the Chinese People," a major tome published by agricultural writer Jia Sixie in the 6th century AD. (Source: The Oxford Companion to Food). What am I?
TRIVIA ANSWER: Black beans. Fermented black beans are used as a seasoning in many Chinese dishes. They are also what gives "Lobster Sauce" its name, since fermented black beans are one of the ingredients used to make the famous dish Lobster Cantonese. Unfermented black beans are commonly used in Latin American cooking; black bean soup is a very popular Mexican dish.