July 2023: Sichuan Ground Chilies Back In Stock!

July 25, 2023

Sichuan ground chilies in a bowl

Spicy Days Are Here Again!  

Greetings, Friends of The Mala Market


Our world-famous Sichuan ground chili blend is back in stock!

You know what to do!

Also back in stock: our Chinese Spice Collection, thanks to the return of smoked cao guo. Cloud ear fungus and shiitake mushrooms (now in a larger, meatier size). And a fresh batch of Yaomazi green Sichuan pepper oil. Bzzzz. 

Sadly, our much-missed Sichuan Dipping Chilies arrived—for the second year in a row—with the wrong formulation. While the new blend is good for cooking, it is not the kind you want to eat straight from the jar, which, to us, is the definition of a perfect chili dip. Oh, well. Hopefully, third time will be the charm. 

🌶 Taylor & Fongchong 🌶
Fragrant-Hot Roasted Ground Chilies (Sichuan Chili Flakes, Xiang La La Jiao Mian)
Fragrant-Hot Roasted Ground Chilies (Sichuan Chili Flakes, Xiang La La Jiao Mian)

Xiang la (fragrant hot) roasted ground chilies are a mix of three popular Sichuan chilies: 

  • Er jing tiao: Low spiciness, strong fragrance, very strong coloring ability
  • Zi dan tou: Moderate spiciness, strong fragrance, strong coloring ability
  • Xiao mi la: High spiciness, weak fragrance, weak coloring ability

The combination produces a deep-red, moderately hot chili oil (la jiao you), a basic pantry essential used in abundance to dress "liangban" cold salads, noodles, dumplings, wontons and more.

Or if you prefer your chili oil to be chunky and crunchy, the blend is a must-have for the most flavorful and colorful chili crisp.

Roasted Ground Chilies has 123 5-star ratings by customers who won't make chili oil without it and one 1-star rating by a guy who wanted it to blow his head off. Sichuan chilies are hot but not too hot, and are equally about flavor, so you can—and want to—eat them in abundance. 

Sichuan Hot and Spicy Beef
Hot and Spicy Beef

I have significantly reworked (and rephotographed) this 2014 recipe for Sichuan Hot and Spicy Beef, known in Chinese as Xiangla Feiniu, or Fragrant Hot Fatty Beef, which was a favorite of 15-year-old Fongchong. Mostly, I just made it easier, as the original recipe called for a restaurant-style oil blanching before the stir-fry. But I've also changed the spice ratios a bit. Don't worry, it is still plenty mala—and still meets the approval of 24-year-old Fongchong. And it can be exceedingly mala if you wish. Just add more fragrant hot ground chilies and huajiao to your heart's content. 

The dish gets a finishing touch of Sichuan pepper oil, roasted sesame oil and your favorite chili oil or crisp. Might I suggest this one

We used our own Mala Market Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil, which, after years in the making, we could not be more excited to reveal very soon! 🌶🎉🌶
Lamb Skewers

Matvei, aka Mishka, is back with his own take on lamb skewers, featuring a skao kao (BBQ) spice blend of Sichuan ground chilies, Mala Market Tribute Pepper, cumin and fennel.

Check out his video recipe for the technique, and here are the ingredients:

1 pound ground lamb
0.5% salt by weight (about 2 grams, or approximately 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt, per pound)

Spice blend (bulk recipe)
1/3 cup cumin seed
1/4 cup fennel seed
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
2-4 tbsp Sichuan ground chilies (to taste)
1 3/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp msg (optional)

You can also short-cut it with The Mala Market's readymade Xinjiang-style Shao Kao Spice (made for us in small batches by Chef Travis at Seattle's Plenty of Clouds). 
Smoked Cao Guo (Tsao Ko, Chinese Black Cardamom)
Smoked Cao Guo (Tsao Ko, Chinese Black Cardamom)

Cao guo, or tsao ko, has gone by various names in English. A member of the ginger family, it has long been called Chinese black cardamom because it is similar to Indian black cardamom in looks and taste. But it seems to have been recently reclassified from the Amomum genus of cardamom to the Asian classification of Lanxangia tsao-ko. To make matters more confusing, it is also sometimes called grass fruit in English. 

Whatever you call it, cao guo is delicious! The big round pods are smoked during the drying process and have an incredible smoky layer on top of the camphor-ish flavor of the inner seeds. We throw a pod or two of cao guo into almost every long-cooked braise or stew. 

Use the whole pod, slightly crushed to release the inner flavor. (Some Sichuan chefs use only the empty shell pod.) Or crack open the pods with a cleaver or other heavy implement, extract the seeds from the sticky interior and grind them for use in the spice mixes that are particularly popular in Yunnan, where they are grown. 

Chinese Spice Collection (Star Anise, Cassia Bark, Sand Ginger, Smoked Cao Guo)
Chinese Spice Collection (Star Anise, Cassia Bark, Sand Ginger, Smoked Cao Guo)

This Chinese Spice Collection includes four popular spices with a 10% discount off the individual prices! 

These four spices provide quintessential flavors to Chinese cooking and are used frequently in braises and stews, chili oil, hot pot and beyond. They are all single-origin spices—grown in a village or small growing area in Guangxi, Yunnan or Guangdong—and are used extensively throughout the country. 

Collection includes:

  • Star anise (ba jiao)
  • Cassia bark (gui pi)
  • Sand ginger (sha jiang)
  • Smoked cao guo (Chinese black cardamom)
Shiitake Mushroom (White Flower Mushroom, Bai Hua Gu)
Shiitake Mushroom (White Flower Mushroom, Bai Hua Gu)
We loved the taste of our last shipment of dried bai hua gu, or white flower mushroom—the best of the best Chinese shiitake mushroom, identifiable by a cracked top that makes it resemble a flower. But this time we wanted a meatier mushroom so we ordered a larger size, with a diameter of 1.5 to 2 inches

These are so useful to have on hand in your pantry, ready to rehydrate and provide a hit of intense umami to a stir-fry or braise. 
Wood Ear and Cucumber Stir-Fry
Cloud Ear + Cucumber Stir-Fry

Our ethereal cloud ear fungus is also back in stock. While perfect in a cold, vinegary wood ear salad, our newest obsession for this toothsome, soft-crunchy fungus is in a stir-fry with cucumber! We got the recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice and are feeling it's the perfect easy, refreshing summer side dish (especially to spicy dishes such as xiangla feiniu). 

The short version: Rehydrate a handful of cloud ear mushrooms in hot water, giving them a couple hours to plump up if you have the time. Rinse and dry well. Thinly slice 2 Persian cucumbers (or similar amount English cucumber). Stir-fry one thinly sliced scallion and 2-3 sliced garlic cloves in hot oil over medium-low heat. Add cloud ear and stir-fry briefly. Add cucumber and toss until warmed through. Add salt and about a tablespoon Zhongba soy sauce and give a last stir. Don't overcook. Savor the delightful tastes and textures! 
Yaomazi Green Sichuan Pepper Oil (Rattan Pepper Oil, Teng Jiao You)
Yaomazi Green Sichuan Pepper Oil (Rattan Pepper Oil, Teng Jiao You)
Yaomazi teng jiao oil was one of the first products we imported from Sichuan because we were, and still are, so enamored by its fragrant, citrusy smell and potent numbing power. Unlike chili oil, which is made from dried chilies, Sichuan pepper oil is made from just-picked, fresh Sichuan pepper berries, which are flush with oil.

Teng jiao is a variety of green Sichuan pepper with very high oil content, which is pressed from the fresh berries and mixed with top-grade, cold-pressed rapeseed oil to make a unique oil widely used in Sichuan sauces and as a finishing oil or condiment (see spicy beef above).