September 2023: Our very own Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil!

September 12, 2023

Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil

Made in Sichuan 

Greetings, Friends of The Mala Market

What’s that you say? The world doesn’t need another chili oil or chili crisp? We hear ya, but we have to disagree. Despite all the delicious oils and crisps on the market, we never found one, other than our homemade, that’s ideal for Sichuan food—that's balanced and versatile, that plays well with all the other flavors in the Sichuan pantry, and that can be used as both condiment and cooking ingredient.

But after dozens of tastings over multiple years, we have finally put The Mala Market name on a lajiaoyou, collaborating with a team of national level Master Chefs on a small-batch, all-natural chili oil made in Sichuan. We are calling it Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil, and every one of those words matters in describing it. 

To celebrate this momentous and long-awaited addition to our line-up, we are permanently reducing the price on our super popular alkaline wheat noodles—because you can't have a Sichuan noodle without a Sichuan chili oil. 


🌶 Taylor & Fongchong 🌶
P.S. Another treat: Our pickled erjingtiao chilies and pickled long beans are both back in stock! 
Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil (All Natural, Made in Sichuan)
Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil (All Natural, Made in Sichuan)

We won’t claim that our new Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil is the best of the dozens of chili oils on the market now, because “best” is totally subjective, and we still believe you can never have too many. But we’ve tasted them all—as well as dozens made in China—and we will tell you why it’s the best for our palate and purposes.

It's VERSATILE: In Sichuan, chili oil may be used as a condiment for noodles and soups, but it’s more frequently used as an ingredient of a noodle sauce and for liang ban/cold dishes/salads/side dishes. These cold dishes play an integral role in Sichuan cuisine, and they usually come dressed in a chili oil-based sauce, which requires chili oil, not just crisp. As per its name, Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil has both oil an
d crisp. Specifically, it's two-thirds oil and one-third crisp, versus a chili crisp or crunch, which generally has little to no oil atop the crisp. 

It's BALANCED: The heat and flavor of this oil are pronounced without being overwhelming. It’s not too salty or full of forced umami (loads of msg or mushroom powder), so it plays well with soy sauce in your dumpling sauce. It’s not too garlicy, so feel free to use it with dishes that already include garlic. It’s not too sweet, as sweet is not the typical Sichuan flavor profile. It’s not too numbing, because it’s better to add your own preferred level of freshly ground Sichuan pepper to a dish. And it’s spicy but not too spicy, because Sichuan uses chili oil in abundance but still wants to enjoy the food.

In short, this chili oil won’t throw off your dumpling sauce or cold dish sauce or noodle sauce by overwhelming the other flavors. Instead it complements them with a balance of spicy, numbing, salty, garlicy, nutty umami. Add it to your dandan mianzajiang miancold noodlessesame noodleschili oil wontonssmashed cucumberseggplant salad.... and everything else, Sichuan or not. It plays nice!

While most of the Chinese-style chili oils and crisps on the U.S. market are made in the U.S., we went to the source to source ours. Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil is made for us in small batches in Chengdu by a team of national level Master Chefs. Read more about the chefs and how the oil is made

When 99% of their customers on Taobao, China's mega-Amazon, rate their spicy oil as "authentic" and say it "tastes better than homemade," then you know it’s the real deal!

Non-GMO, Vegan, Gluten-Free (double-tested for gluten)

  • Made for us in Chengdu by national level Master Chefs
  • All natural, with no additives or preservatives
  • 2/3 oil and 1/3 crisp, to be used as both cooking ingredient and condiment
  • Featuring Sichuan's finest caiziyou, erjingtiao chili and Tribute Sichuan pepper
  • Spicy, but not too spicy, with the perfect balance of flavors
  • A generous 8 ounces
Sichuan Spicy Tofu Pudding

Sichuan Spicy Tofu Pudding

Soft, warm, jiggly, smooth tofu pudding is one of the very best ways to show off a delicious chili oil. Kathy brings us this recipe for Sichuan-style douhua, and while she recommends homemade chili oil, our new Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil tastes like it could be homemade. Shhhh! No one will know! 

"If you've eaten street foods in China (or Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and many others I'm missing!), there's a good chance you've had 豆花 (dòuhuā), tofu pudding—or 豆花儿 (dòuhuā'er), as it's called in Sichuan. Jiggly blocks of soy 'pudding' cleave readily with just a spoon, each bite as tender as the silkiest tofu.

"Fresh, just-barely-set douhua is backdrop to savory sauces and pickles in the North, sweet syrups in the South and spicy dressings in Sichuan. Personally, I couldn't imagine tofu pudding without its blood-red homemade chili oil, strong soy sauce and crunch of fried soybeans/peanuts. Sour vinegar and pickles with a tingly dusting of freshly ground huajiao deliver a piquant bite to every mouthful of neutral tofu, and all of a sudden my tastebuds are being wrapped in a cozy tofu blanket."

If you've ever tried to make douhua, however, you know it's not as easy to make as it is to eat, as it requires the just-right use of coagulating agents that can be finicky. Kathy remedies that problem with this foolproof recipe that replaces those agents with one ingredient you most likely already have in your kitchen. Can you guess what it is?

Alkaline Wheat Noodles (Jianshui Mian for Dan Dan Mian), Set of 2
Alkaline Wheat Noodles (Jianshui Mian for Dan Dan Mian), Set of 2
Save 25%: Now 2 bundles for $12 vs. 1 bundle for $8

You know them, you love them, our alkaline wheat noodles are everyone's favorite for dandan mian and other dishes that call for a bouncy, chewy, bold noodle that stands up to sauces and broths. 

In honer of the launch of our new Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil, we are permanently cutting the price of the alkaline noodles by 25%! The only catch is that they now come in a set of two bundles, making them two for $12 vs. one for $8. 

(By way of explanation, for those who are curious, the economics of e-commerce are such that if we reduce the price to $6 for one, and someone orders only that one item, then we lose money on the order after you factor in packing materials and the portion of the shipping cost we cover—before even counting labor and overhead.)

But we feel sure you'll both cherish your $4 discount and make good use of that extra bundle. (That's 9 servings total!)
Chengdu zajiang mian

Chengdu Zajiangmian 

Grab your Chengdu Crispy Chili Oil and your alkaline wheat noodles—along with some pickled erjingtiao chilies and long beans—and you are most of the way there in recreating Chengdu zajiangmian.  

Zajiangmian is a heartier big brother to the diminutive dandan noodles, which is generally served in a small snack size, making the meal-size zajiangmian the more-common and more-loved noodle in modern Chengdu.

Just don't confuse it with Beijing zhajiangmian, a completely different animal. Chengdu zajiangmian, like most all Sichuan noodles, starts with a chili oil-based sauce made in the bottom of the bowl. It is then topped with noodles and a minced pork, ragu-like topping. Additional toppings may include a fried egg, stewed yellow peas, boiled greens, pickled long beans, zhacai, peanuts, etc. Above I've opted for pickled long beans from my paocai jar in a very popular combo called jiangdou zajiangmian. A shortcut is our newly restocked readymade pickled long beans

Notice that the noodles are served with a side of pickled cabbage from the paocai jar, as most noodles in Chengdu are, as they make an ideal crunchy tart foil to the rich and spicy noodles. 

I have significantly revised and improved this 2017 recipe, and, if I do say so myself, it tastes like Chengdu in a bowl!

Pickled Er Jing Tiao Chilies (Sichuan Pickled Chilies, Pao La Jiao)
Pickled Er Jing Tiao Chilies (Sichuan Pickled Chilies, Pao La Jiao)

Pickled erjingtiao chilies flavor the pork mince for the zajiangmian above, and you can also use the pickled form of Sichuan's favorite chili in place of chili bean paste in yuxiang dishes (porkeggplant, etc) as is often done in Sichuan, or in dishes like fish stew with pickled greens and chilies or pickled-pepper beef noodles or as a sauce ingredient for cold dishes. Anywhere you'd like a little pickled pepper punch! 

Pickled Yardlong Beans (Sichuan Pickled Cowpeas, Pao Jiang Dou)
Pickled Yardlong Beans (Sichuan Pickled Cowpeas, Pao Jiang Dou)

While they look like long green beans, yardlong beans are actually in the cowpea species, like the black-eyed pea, though they taste much more like a green bean than a black-eyed pea. Called jiangdou in Mandarin, the pickled version is used mostly as a cooking ingredient, and is particularly good stir-fried with ground pork or chicken for a "xiafan cai" rice topping or as a zajiang noodle topping

Zajiang noodles after being mixed for eating

Zajiangmian after the mix...Chengdu in a bowl