March 2018: Accept No Substitutes for Sichuan Chili Flakes

March 25, 2018

March 2018: Accept No Substitutes for Sichuan Chili Flakes

Accept No Substitutes for Sichuan Chili Flakes 

Hello, Friends of The Mala Market! 

Dropping a quick line mainly to let you know that The Mala Market will have delayed shipping in the first half of April. If you think you'll need Sichuan supplies soon, please order by the end of March, as everything ordered in the first two weeks of April will be shipped around April 16.

We apologize for that inconvenience, but Fong Chong and I are taking advantage of her spring break to head back to Chengdu for another sourcing trip. Our main pursuit this time is premium, long-aged Pixian chili bean paste. Wish us luck on the hunt!

In the meantime, did you know that Sichuan chili flakes are made differently than other chili flakes? No matter how you make your chili oil, you want Sichuan ground chiles as the base. Italian-style, generic crushed chili flakes are all wrong for Sichuan cooking, and even Korean flakes are less than ideal (though certainly better than Italian). Sichuan chili flakes are made by frying the whole chilies in vegetable oil until crisp before grinding into flakes, seeds and powder. The frying enhances the flavor, color and texture and makes for the toasty taste and vivid red coloring that characterize Sichuan chili oil, without dyes or additives. 

You can use whole dried chili peppers and do the frying and grinding yourself, or you can use those readymade in Sichuan. Our fragrant hot ground chilies are a combination of facing heaven, er jin tiao and xiao mi chilies and make a deep-red, moderately hot chili oil. Ground chilies are also used in numerous Sichuan dishes, including mapo doufu, Chongqing chicken, dry pot, hot pot, etc.

We've recently lowered the price on both sizes of ground chilies in hopes that you'll check them out! 

Thank you for reading, shopping and cooking with us,
Taylor & Fong Chong


The Mala Market's Fragrant Hot Ground Chilies

Fragrant Hot Ground Chilies

These ground chilies are the perfect mix of flakes, powder and seeds to make killer chili oil. Here they are, in 5 ounce and 7 ounce sizes, which will make enough chili oil even for the obsessed. Your dumplings will thank you! 
Zhong's dumplings in red oil

Speaking of dumplings...

When you order wontons or dumplings in that crazy-spicy-good red oil in a Sichuan restaurant, you're ordering Zhong's dumplings, named after the man who created that sauce. It's basically a mix of good homemade chili oil and a spiced, sweet, dark soy sauce. Here's our recipe. While dumpling-making is not my strong suit, the sauce definitely hits the mark. 
Crispy Shallot Chili Oil

And speaking of chili oil...

Here is a recipe for one of our variations on chili oil that features crispy sweet shallots. It's more complex than simple chili oil (hot oil and toasted ground chilies) but less complicated than Lao Gan Ma's Spicy Chili Crisp, whose myriad flavors can overwhelm some dishes. The subtle sweetness of the shallots adds a third dimension to this versatile oil. 
Chongqing Lobster

In case you missed it: Chongqing Lobster

Ground chilies are often used in stir-fries and, especially, dry stir-fries, where the sauce is basically a quick wok-made chili oil. This lobster (and assorted other shellfish) in the style of Chongqing Chicken is a delicious and decadent example. It also features gorgeous, fat red lantern chilies and green Sichuan pepper, fish's favorite seasoning. 

Don't forget to place any urgent orders by the end of March. Orders placed on April 1 and after will be shipped April 16.