Category: How to Cook With Chinese Black Vinegar

Wok-Fried Snapper in Chili Bean Sauce

Cooking With Pixian Doubanjiang: Wok-Fried Fish in Chili Bean Sauce

Fish, A Wok-Fried Wonder A few years ago I posted a similar recipe to this wok-fried snapper for fish in chili bean sauce (doubanyu), but with the rather odd point of view of someone who struggled to make it, made a lot of mistakes, and put it on view anyway as proof that it ended up tasting good despite the mishaps. I have now made this popular Sichuan dish enough times that I don’t make all those errors. Which just goes to show that If you stick with wok cooking...

suan la fen

Chongqing Suanlafen (酸辣粉) Sour and Spicy Sweet Potato Noodles

Lameizi’s Noodles: A Spicy Girl Graduates Suanlafen, or sour and spicy soup with sweet potato noodles, always makes me think of Fongchong. We share a belief that spicy and sour, in that order, are the two best tastes, and nothing embodies those tastes better than suanlafen. Not only is it my daughter’s go-to soup in Sichuan restaurants, but one particular memory of her having it in her homeland always makes me smile, reminding me that my spicy girl (lameizi, as they’re known in Sichuan) knows her own mind and will always...

Itty Bitty Baby Bok Choy in Vinegar-Oyster Sauce

Gilded Bok Choy So I made some itty bitty baby bok choy stir-fried with loads of garlic and drizzled with Zhenjiang vinegar, oyster sauce and soy sauce for dinner not long ago. Before we pounced on it, I took a throwaway (neither styled nor lighted) photo of it and later posted it to Instagram. Whereupon, everyone else seemed to want to pounce on it. It reminded me that to most of us, even those of us who are avid meat eaters, there’s nothing more enticing than a plate of well-cooked...

Sichuan Spareribs With Mala BBQ Sauce (Mala Paigu): Cooking With Grace Young

Happy Year of the Pig! I can’t help myself each year from trying to match a recipe with the Chinese New Year animal. Some years are a stretch—dragon, monkey—but pig, the meat supreme of China, has to be the easiest. Chinese spareribs are a pork dish I’ve never tackled, so I went whole hog, calling on Chinese food authority Grace Young for some guidance on Chinese BBQ and making oven-roasted Sichuan spareribs two distinct ways. We have Grace to thank for this wet-rub rib based on Cantonese barbecue spareribs. She...

Liangfen of Happy Tears (Shangxin Liangfen, 伤心凉粉) From NYC’s Málà Project

Great Sichuan Restaurant Recipes: Tears of Joy or Heartbreak?  A Controversial Jelly Noodle Have you ever been to a Sichuan restaurant and seen a bowl of something that looks like big fat noodles but on closer inspection is actually jiggly strands of jelly? Ranging from translucent to opaque white or yellow, they usually glow with a chili-oil sauce and fresh and crunchy garnishes. When you manage to capture these slippery guys with your chopsticks, they slither down your throat so easily. They are an enigma, at once hot and spicy...

Roasted Chili Eggplant (Liangban Qiezi, 凉拌茄子) from Chengdu’s Ying Garden

Great Sichuan Restaurant Recipes: Green Food vs. Red Food When people think of Sichuan food, they think of red. The three ingredients most identified with the cuisine—red chilies, red Sichuan peppercorns and red chili bean paste—present a united front of red in the bowl or plate when they are all in use. But what the West tends to forget is that Sichuan has some magnificent green food. Not just green leafy vegetables, which make up the majority of any full meal, but green chilies, green Sichuan pepper, green onions and...

Cooking With Laoganma: Spicy Chili Crisp Potato Salad (Liangban Tudou, 凉拌土豆)

The Godmother Miniseries: Potatoes As many from-scratch recipes as I publish, what really drives traffic to my website is The Godmother, aka, Laoganma, whom I first wrote at length about in early 2015. People all over the world love these Guizhou-made chili oils as condiments and are also looking for ways to cook with them. So who am I to disagree? I have one very popular recipe on the site for LGM Black Bean Chicken, but I cook with both the Spicy Chili Crisp and the Chili Oil With Black...

Sichuan Cucumber Three Ways: Hot-and-Sour, Mala and Sesame (Paihuanggua)

Cool as a (Spicy) Cucumber Sichuan knows how to treat a cucumber: with spice! Here are three cucumber preparations, using three different forms of chili pepper, and resulting in three very different tastes. The first is hot-and-sour and similar to a Western quick pickle with the addition of pickled or fresh red chilies. The second is mala, the smacked cucumber smacking strongly of that incomparable toasty chili and tingly Sichuan pepper taste that makes mala so addictive. And the third is so flavor-packed with chili oil, sesame paste and yacai preserved vegetable that it...

Hot-and-Sour Eggplant (Suanla Liangban Qiezi)

Chengdu Challenge #28: Eggplant, a Girl’s Best Friend What to send to school in your daughter’s lunchbox when she’s changing high schools as a sophomore and facing a lunchtime cafeteria where she knows no one and has no one to eat with? Her favorite vegetable, of course. The vegetable that makes her feel happy as she eats it no matter what is going on around her or how alone she feels. For Fongchong, that vegetable is eggplant. Now, I’d rather go over there and eat lunch with her in that...

Gongbao Chicken With Cashews (Gongbao Jiding, 宫保鸡丁)

Chengdu Challenge #27: The Do’s and Don’ts of Kung Pao The Mala Project (now The Mala Market blog) turns two years old this month. It hasn’t made me rich or famous (far from!), but that wasn’t the goal. The immediate goal when I started it was to be a better mom to my immigrant daughter by being a better Sichuan home cook. I did it in blog form because I thought that if I committed publicly I’d be far more likely to stick with it. And it worked! Two years on,...

Yu Xiang Pork

Yuxiang Pork (Yuxiang Rousi, 鱼香肉丝)

Chengdu Challenge #25: This Is Not Pork in Garlic Sauce Yuxiang pork is often translated in the U.S. as pork in garlic sauce. But yuxiang is so much more than a garlic sauce. It’s sweet-and-sour-and-chili-and-garlic sauce. To me, it is what sweet-and-sour sauce should be, but more intriguing and deep. It’s got the tang of dark vinegar just barely tamed by sugar, plus the trinity of garlic-ginger-scallions. But garlic does not dominate, it is just perfectly balanced with the slightly sweet-and-sour and the spicy chili element. The literal translation of...

Tiger skin peppers

Tiger Skin Peppers (Hupi Qingjiao)

Chengdu Challenge #23: A Tiger on the Plate You can see in the photo above why this dish is called 虎皮青椒 (hǔpí qīngjiāo), or tiger skin peppers: The peppers are seared in the wok on both sides until the skin is puckered and striped with black char like a tiger. While this side dish is seriously delicious, it does not take itself too seriously. It is yet another example of a whimsical, poetic Chinese name for a fairly simple food. (The Chinese must find the tiger a whimsical animal, because...