For too long, we have been on a quest to find a place with a steady supply of raw, uncooked black beans (tinned ones just aren’t as good). If you live in a Western-expat populated area, you probably don’t have this problem (if you see a lot of dog-walking happening in your area, and everything at your local supermarket is 3 times more expensive, you probably live in a Western expat area).
A staple of Mexican cuisine, the black bean is a very popular ingredient in a lot of restaurants here, but for some reason, isn’t a regular feature on the non-western-expat-friendly supermarket shelves. Tinned versions are now slowly making their way to the bigger hypermarkets, but raw, uncooked ones are a rare species.
We thought maybe it was just us, and everyone else had their secret little vendor supplying them with stashes of the good stuff. But a little search on Expatwoman proved that we are not alone. So we set about trying to find it.
What we discovered, after harassing a lot of merchandisers at a lot of supermarkets (are you SURE, absolutely POSITIVE that you don’t have it? *merchandiser backs away slowly*), is that we had been looking in all the wrong places.
We completely forgot that black beans are also a staple, albeit not as pronounced, in Asian food (chicken in black bean sauce ring a bell?). A quick search in the ethnic Asian food section at Al Maya proved us right. There it was, staring back at us as proof of the enormity of our ignorance.
So, like any sensible person would do, we hoarded. Demand drives supply, and we wanted this brand to know it was wanted, so that it doesn’t disappear overnight, as some do (and you’re left wandering the shelves in hope). Also, we were terrified we wouldn’t find it again.
The brand we bought was called Thai Food King. We rushed home, dreaming of making a big bowl of black bean chili, finally settling on a more realistic black bean salsa to go with some homemade burritos, & then deciding to skip the burritos and stuffing our faces with the salsa straight from the bowl. Worked out pretty well. The beans tasted as good as any black beans we’ve had, so if you find this brand on the shelves, go for it. It won’t disappoint.
So, the next time you want black beans, and the Mexican food section doesn’t yield anything, go look in the nooks and crannies of the Asian food section. We struck gold at Al Maya, but there are others who cater to Asian customers, like Westzone. Also, ethnic Asian groceries will probably have it too.
Or if you would like to share your black bean source (you big-hearted soul), let us know in the comments!