October 2018: The 2018 Spice Harvest Has Arrived!

October 24, 2018

October 2018: The 2018 Spice Harvest Has Arrived!

The 2018 Harvest Has Arrived!

Hello, Friends of The Mala Market!

It's our favorite time of the year, when our shipment of newly harvested spices makes it through the gauntlet of importing and arrives at our doorstep. The photo at top is not actually how they arrived; I just like this shot I took at the Chengdu spice market. Our spices go directly from farmer to processor to us. However I did feel a bit like this guy while unloading a literal ton of spices last week. 

Despite being held hostage for two costly weeks by the FDA for an arbitrary inspection, the spices arrived in tiptop shape, and you will not find fresher Sichuan pepper anywhere in the U.S.! We buy ours immediately after harvest, while we can get the cream of the crop, and bring it in by air, cutting out months of time on the ocean. And our Sichuan pepper is not heat-treated, making it doubly fragrant and potent compared to others. 

Further good news is that while prices for Sichuan pepper increased due to this year's small harvest, spices are one of the few Chinese food imports that are not part of the trade war with China and not incurring heavily increased tariffs. Though you can certainly expect the cost of most other Chinese food ingredients to increase dramatically come January 2019 when the 25% tariffs kick in, spices have escaped that fate—for now!
Our offerings are increasing this season to include spices for making other western Chinese cuisines, including Yunnan and Muslim Chinese food. Along with three types of Sichuan pepper, we have four types of dried chili peppers and four new spices. We've also updated our packaging to reflect the exact growing location of each spice, which ranges from Xinjiang in the far northwest to Guangxi in the far south. 

And finally, in plenty of time for the holiday season, we've updated and improved our cooking kits and added a Complete Sichuan Pantry Collection. It includes just about everything you need to make Sichuan food and a full set of recipe cards in one kit. If you know someone who loves spicy food and would like the eminently doable challenge of making better Chinese food than they can buy, then this is an ideal gift!

Let the feasting season begin!

🌶Taylor & Fongchong 🌶

Sichuan Pepper Sampler

Sichuan Pepper

Now that all three species of Sichuan pepper are back in stock, our popular Sichuan Pepper Sampler is available again. The Hanyuan pepper is grown in the famed village of Qingxi in Hanyuan County, Sichuan, while the green Sichuan pepper is grown in the Yi autonomous prefecture in the very south of the province. Our best-seller, da hong pao (big red pao), is grown just over the northern border of Sichuan in Gansu Province. You'll be amazed at how different they are from one another! 

Sichuan chili peppers

Chili Peppers

In addition to the ever-useful and -popular facing heaven chili and the fat, round, showy lantern chili, we now have xiao mi la, a small red firecracker of a chili, and Sichuan's famous er jing tiao, a long, thin, fragrant beauty. Because Sichuan is the engine of western China and widely industrialized, chilies are now grown in neighboring Guizhou Province, where farming is still attractive and the land and air less polluted. All of our chilies are grown in Guizhou, home to its own wonderfully spicy cuisine (and the famous Lao Gan Ma chili oils). These just-picked chilies are deep red, amazingly fragrant and pliably soft (sure signs of an old chili are faded color and brittleness).

Facing heaven, xiao mi la and er jing tiao chilies are also used to make our chili flakes. They are first toasted in oil to deepen their flavor and then ground to create the perfect mix of flakes, powder and seeds for making homemade Sichuan chili oil.  

Chinese Spice Collection

Warm Spices

One of the lesser-known but defining features of Chinese cuisines is their use of warm spices. Star anise, cassia bark (Chinese cinnamon) and black cardamom are used regularly in braises, stews and soups in many parts of the country. You'll also find them in Sichuan chili oil and the spiced, sweet soy sauce that Chengdu dumplings float in as well as in hot pot and dry pot. In addition to those essential spices, we've also brought in freshly harvested Xinjiang cumin, since we know that everyone loves the region's cumin lamband shao kao (BBQ) skewers. Purchase these spices individually or as a set.

3 Year Aged Pixian Chili Bean Paste (Yi Feng He Hao Doubanjiang)
3 Year Aged Pixian Chili Bean Paste (Yi Feng He Hao Doubanjiang)
In addition to TheMalaMarket.com, we are selling our 3-year doubanjiang on Amazon, inclusive of recipes. Click here for the listing