Chinese black bean sauce is used in countless vegetable, meat and seafood dishes to provide a unique taste that is both salty and earthy. Appearances notwithstanding, the fermented beans in this sauce are actually soybeans. Curing the soybeans in salt and fermenting them turns the beans black. While this sauce may not provide much by way of nutrition, it doesn't contain harmful ingredients, either. Since the sauce makes many healthy dishes taste even better, using it should be in every cook's skill set.
Since black bean sauce is added as a flavoring while the dish is being cooked, it's difficult to tell precisely how much is used unless you cook the dish yourself. Since it's best to err on the side of excess when calculating calories, the addition of black bean sauce to a dish is presumed to be 1 tablespoon per serving. This is probably slightly more than appears in individual helpings of most restaurant dishes.
Calories and Fat
Cooking with black bean sauce adds 65 calories and 6 g fat to each individual portion. Despite the fat, this remains a heart-healthy addition because it contains no cholesterol and no saturated fats. While the addition of 65 calories may give you pause about eating this dish, a greater concern should be how this dish was cooked as most dishes that are made with black bean sauce are stir-fried, which adds far more calories than the saucing of the dish.
The addition of black bean sauce to a dish adds 1 g of protein to the total protein count of each serving. Since people generally require more than 45 g of protein, this addition is not substantial. However, the protein count does indicate that black bean sauce contains more than empty calories.
Adding black bean sauce while cooking adds roughly 65 mg of sodium to each serving. This is not sufficiently high to merit avoiding dishes because of the sodium content. However, you will want to take this amount into account when cooking dishes that require black bean sauce at home. You may also want to consider the overall sodium count of the dish when ordering it in a restaurant.
Vitamin and Minerals
The addition of black bean sauce to a dish provides no vitamin A, vitamin C, iron or calcium. This unique flavoring is added to enhance the taste of the food, not to boost the food's nutritional value.