The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Cooking Sichuan Blog

The Mala Market

The Mala Market

The Mala Market is our online store offering all the premium Sichuan ingredients you need for making food that tastes like it would in China. As our customers have told us, our red and green Sichuan pepper are so fresh and potent you’ll need to adapt your recipes! We also offer a selection of dried chili peppers and chili flakes used in Sichuan, the aged doubanjiang, or chili bean paste, that is the signature taste of so many dishes, and other sauces and pickles from the area. We round that...

The Mala Project Is Now ‘The Mala Market Blog’

Change Is Good (in Life and Recipes)~~ Dear friends of The Mala Project, From now on you’ll be hearing from Fong Chong and me as The Mala Market. It was a tough decision to change the name of our blog, but we’ve heard from too many people that having two different “brands” is overly complicated. So we want to consolidate under one name, and there are at least two good reasons to go with “Market” instead of “Project”:  1) Having the same name as a restaurant in New York called...

All-Purpose Pork and Pickled Green Bean Stir-fry (Rou Mo Jiang Dou)

If Larb Were Sichuan~~ As you all know, I did not grow up in Sichuan watching my mom cook dinner every night and learning her secrets for family-style, home-cooked food, and neither, for that matter, did Fong Chong. Therefore, the Sichuan food I know and try to recreate here is generally restaurant dishes. Some of them are rather quick and easy, but most are not. However, we do cook quick-and-easy Sichuan food in our house, and this is one of those homey, any-night recipes I’ve learned on my own. Rou...

Sichuan’s Naturally Fermented Pickles (Pao Cai)

A Lacto-Fermented Pantry~~ Have you ever tried making pickles without vinegar? There’s a bit of a learning curve involved in letting natural lacto-fermentation sour your vegetables instead of vinegar. But there’s also huge payoff for the effort. Not only in health benefits—fermentation creates good bacteria, or probiotics, that aid in digestion and vitamin absorption—but in culinary benefits as well, since the vegetables taste like sour versions of themselves instead of like vinegar. Now I love a good vinegar quick pickle, but naturally fermented vegetables are useful not just as condiments...

Chongqing Chicken Like It’s Made in Chongqing

The Truth About Sichuan Food There vs. Here~~ At last I’ve eaten Chongqing Chicken in Chongqing, and not only was it delicious, it was revelatory. This new recipe for the dish is based on the version I had there. It won’t be for everyone—a main ingredient is crispy fried chicken skin!—so I’m not replacing my previous recipe, which I created in 2015 based on memories of Chongqing chicken I had eaten in Chengdu, where it is known as la zi ji (chicken with chilies). I still like that version, but...

Green Sichuan Pepper Fish (Qing Hua Jiao Yu)

Sichuan Pepper Like You’ve Never Had It~~ What do you do with green Sichuan pepper, some readers and shoppers have asked. Well, there’s lots you can do with this mesmerizing spice, I would say, but you should probably start with this Green Sichuan Pepper Fish to experience the full power and potential of qing hua jiao. If you’ve eaten at Chengdu Taste in L.A.’s San Gabriel Valley you might have ordered this dish (called Boiled Fish in Green Pepper Sauce), as it’s a crowd favorite there. Otherwise, think of it...

You Cooked It!: Sichuan Dishes by Our Readers and Shoppers

Happy Anniversary to Us~~ The Mala Project turns three years old this month, and I am celebrating by thinking of all the dishes YOU have made from our recipes over that time. I would never have stuck with this time-consuming sideline if not for your genuine enthusiasm and support for the effort. It started out as a  labor of love, and you have made it even more so. So, a couple of weeks ago I invited readers to send me photos of dishes they’ve made using Mala Project recipes and/or...

Paocai to the People: At Chengdu Restaurants, Free Homemade Pickles Are the Standard | Jordan Porter

A Pickle a Day~~ By Jordan Porter—Holler out “paocai,” the Chinese word for pickles, at nearly any restaurant in Chengdu and the wait staff will deliver a bowl of delicious homemade pickled veggies to your table. I say nearly, because at some places the communal pickle jar (or urn, or bucket, or box) is self-serve, and you scoop them up on your own.  Either way, a house-made pickle comes standard at every restaurant in the city. The best part? It’s free! Pickled and fermented ingredients, from the famous douban paste...

Mala Dry Pot With Cauliflower, Snap Peas and Bacon (Gan Guo Caihua)

Weeknight Dry Pot~~ I’m not sure y’all believed me the first time I shared a recipe for dry pot (gan guo or mala xiang guo), back in September 2015. Perhaps I did not convey how delicious it truly is. Or perhaps it seemed like too much effort. Or perhaps you’d just never heard of it—which is highly possible if you live outside China, where it’s been trendy for years. But dry pot is making its play in the U.S., moving out of the San Gabriel Valley to other places on...

Inspired by Houston’s Mala Sichuan Bistro: Mala Beef Jerky (Mala Niu Rou Gan)

Award-Winning Sichuan~~ A few days ago, Jianyun Ye, the chef at one of my favorite Sichuan restaurants, Houston’s Mala Sichuan Bistro, was nominated for a James Beard Award as Best Chef Southwest. Two other Chinese chefs working in authentic Sichuan restaurants owned by Mainland Chinese restaurateurs also got regional Best Chef nods for 2017: Ri Liu at Atlanta’s Masterpiece (which we visit frequently) and Wei Zhu of Chengdu Gourmet in Pittsburgh. Check out those locations. Not NYC, SF or LA, but Houston, Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Dare I believe that all...

Introducing Chengdu Zajiang Noodles (Zajiang Mian)

Just Don’t Call It Zhajiang Mian~~ As we learned in the recent guest post from Chengdu Food Tours’s Jordan Porter, zajiang mian is one of Chengdu’s most popular noodles, a bigger, heartier cousin of dan dan noodles and more-loved than its little cousin in modern Chengdu. I promised at the time to work on the recipe, and here are the results. But first, I want to share my closer-to-home inspiration: the zajiang mian at Mian, a real-deal Sichuan/Chongqing noodle shop in L.A.’s San Gabriel Valley. Opened by Tony Xu, chef-owner of the...

Chengdu Noodles: Above and Beyond Dan Dan Mian | Jordan Porter

The Straight-up, Lo-down on the Infinite Varieties~~ The Mala Project’s first-ever guest post is by Jordan Porter, owner and chief experience officer at Chengdu Food Tours. A Canadian who has lived in Chengdu since 2010, he began his culinary tour company in 2015 and has since led tours of the streets of Chengdu and the countryside of Sichuan for travelers like you and me and for food VIPs (many of whose articles you probably read, after Jordan schooled them in Sichuan cuisine). As many of you know, I also began my...