Gluten free substitutes for Healthy Boy soybean paste

Gluten free substitutes for Healthy Boy soybean paste

Fermented bean sauce is an important part of many culture’s cuisines. It imparts an umami-filled salty and earthy depth to a huge variety of dishes. The kind of fermented soybean sauce we’re investigating today is called many different names: เต้าเจี้ยว, 豆醬, tauco, tau cheong, taotjo, tao jiew, or tauchu. It’s used in Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Bruneian and Singaporean cooking.

Tao jiew is a type of yellow bean paste (黃豆醬). Yellow bean paste is made with the soybeans left over from making soy sauce. Tao jiew is created by further fermenting and processing the yellow bean paste, which deepens and darkens the sauce. As you could perhaps tell from the title of this article, tao jiew and most fermented bean pastes are not gluten free because they contain wheat flour.


Healthy Boy soybean sauce ingredients from Pandan Market

Wheat flour wasn’t traditionally used in yellow bean paste, but it’s now an incredibly common additive, just like it’s become for soy sauce. Wheat is listed as the second ingredient (after soybeans) in every fermented bean paste we found. There are currently no companies producing gluten free tao jiew, so the best move here is to use a different kind of fermented bean paste instead.

Gluten Free Substitutes for Fermented Bean Paste

These subs aren’t going to perfectly replicate the flavors you’d get from tao jiew, but unless you’d like to make your own fermented bean paste, they’re good enough! If you’re up for making it yourself, we’ll also provide some guidance for that further down.


Gaeul Hyanggi doenjang from Gochujar

The links here provide information about each of these alternative pastes, as not all of them are gluten free by default either! Please don’t just go out and buy any old doubanjiang or doenjang and assume it will be gf, because it won’t! Only very specific types leave out the gluten. All of the substitutes should be thinned with water to make the consistency match tao jiew.

  • Doenjang - probably the best sub for tao jiew!

  • Miso - it’s generally recommended to use the darkest miso paste you can find if you’re subbing for tao jiew, as miso’s flavor is less deep

  • Douchi preserved black beans - soak before using and start with a small amount of smashed douchi because it’s generally more intense in flavor and less sweet than tao jiew

  • Tua nao (ถั่วเน่า) - these fermented dried soy discs are quite difficult to find in stores, but would be a solid sub for tao jiew (or shrimp paste if you’re vegan)

  • Doubanjiang - contains chilis and a bit funkier than tao jiew, so use less and only use this if your recipe calls for chili

  • Gochujang - contains chili and sugar, so not a great sub, but does provide some of the fermented funkiness of tao jiew if you’re out of other options

Make Your Own Gluten Free Fermented Bean Paste

Some of the following recipes don’t require any substitutes to make them gluten free, but certain varieties include soy sauce or wheat flour in the recipe. For these versions, choose gluten free replacements. Soy sauce is easy to sub 1:1, but flour is trickier. Make sure you use a gluten free flour with some sweetness and a light color that will not become too bitter when fermented. Sorghum or finely ground white rice flour may be good options.

* Title image courtesy of Pandan Market.

- Further Reading -