Facing Heaven Zi Dan Tou Chili (Chao Tian Jiao)
Chao tian jiao, or facing heaven chilies, are so called because they grow upward toward the sky. There are many types of facing heaven chilies, but these zi dan tou, or bullet head, chilies are the most popular in Chengdu nowadays. They are 1.5 inch to 2.5 inches in length.
Facing heaven zi dan tou chilies are deep-red and medium-hot and are used for many Sichuan dishes, since they can be used in abundance. These are vibrant, fragrant and soft—a sign of freshness and full flavor. (Brittle, fading and discolored chilies are several years old.)
Try them in gong bao chicken or shui zhu ("water-boiled") dishes. As with all dried chilies, the heat is controllable: Leave chilies whole for less heat, cut them in half and include some seeds in your dish for maximum heat.
(Note that if you're looking for rounder, fatter peppers, we also offer lantern chilies.)
Most chili peppers sold and eaten in Sichuan in recent times come from neighboring Guizhou Province, which is warmer and less industrialized/polluted. These chilies are sun-dried by the farmers then further dried, cleaned and tested by our supplier in Chengdu to meet international safety standards. We at The Mala Market hand-package them weekly.
Source: Guizhou Province
Size: 4 ounces (115 grams); 4 1/2 cups by volume