Category: How to Cook With Dried Chilies

Mapo Eggplant Noodles ft. Dried Knife-Cut Noodles

Mapo Eggplant Ragu for Your Noodles Mapo eggplant noodles came to me in the dark of COVID yesteryear, when many restaurants were still shuttered and even outdoor dining required proof of vaccination. My roommate had generously invited me along to sample the hype of a long-time Sichuan establishment in Manhattan—my initial cause for skepticism. “It’s supposed to be good,” she assured me. “I just want to try it out.” In our rustic COVID cabana (that staple of hastily-assembled wooden sheds replacing sidewalks and bike lanes with bare-bones seating for undaunted...

Stovetop Chongqing Kaoyu (烤鱼): Wanzhou Grilled Fish

Pan-searing a Modern Chongqing Specialty I first ate Chongqing 烤鱼 (kǎoyú) in the underbelly of a Chengdu mall (real ones know it’s all about those random mall basement restaurants). That was back in 2015, and Chongqing’s explosive grilled fish scene has lingered in the back of my mind ever since. Buried between colorful layers of crunch, spice, fermented douban umami, fresh vegetables and sour paojiao, charcoal-grilled kaoyu takes the fiery flavor bomb of Sichuan hotpot and combines it with street food favorite 烧烤 (shāokǎo), Chinese barbecue. Naturally, Chongqing kaoyu is also known as 烧烤鱼...

Spicy cumin beef on knife-cut noodles

Spicy Cumin Beef on Knife-Cut Noodles (Ft. Dried Daoxiaomian)

Handmade Noodle Nirvana, aka Northwest China This is another in our series about making famous Chinese restaurant noodle dishes not with the usual freshly made noodles but with premium dried noodles. If you have the time and skill to make hand-pulled, hand-ripped or knife-cut noodles on the regular, then you can stop here. But if you haven’t mastered Chinese noodle making and still want a damn good homemade version of spicy, tingly cumin beef on wide, ruffly noodles, then all you need is some high-quality dried mian in your pantry....

One-Pot Weeknight Suancaiyu (酸菜鱼): Pickled Mustard-Green Fish Stew

Shortcut Suancaiyu When it comes to weeknight 酸菜鱼 (suāncàiyú), spicy and sour Sichuan fish (yu) with pickled mustard greens (suancai), even devout cooks need the occasional shortcut. Like most fish dishes on the mainland, suancaiyu uses whole fresh fish. And try as one might, Ma simply won’t be found buying, killing and gutting live fish on a Tuesday. Not that there’s much live fresh fish to be found around those parts—what suburbs have in 4-bedroom family homes, they lack in specialty fishmongers. So, we use fish fillets. No, it’s not the...

Toothpick Lamb From a Sichuan Master Chef

Toothpick Lamb From a Sichuan Master Chef (Yaqian Yangrou, 牙签羊肉)

Finger-Licking Flavor Have you ever had the famed toothpick lamb at L.A.’s Chengdu Taste or Sichuan Impression? Or perhaps at another of the ever-growing list of stellar Sichuan restaurants in our land? If you have, you probably wish you could make these crispy lamb nuggets adorned with a cumin–chili–huajiao spice mix at home. If you haven’t, believe me, you want to make them at home. We’ve been chomping on these on every visit to Los Angeles for years, but I’ve never actually had them in Chengdu and never seen them...

white dish with stirfried cabbage piled high

Sichuan Hand-Torn Cabbage Stir-Fry (Shousi Baicai, 手撕白菜)

Cabbage and Huajiao, Happily Ever After This Sichuan Hand-Torn Cabbage Stir-Fry is a homestyle classic beloved in and out of Sichuan. It’s cheap, vegetarian, comes together in minutes and requires no special ingredients outside of a standard Chinese pantry. Plus, keep reading for an easy way to elevate this cabbage stir-fry into a Sichuan pepper (花椒, huājiāo) tasting experience! Cabbage gets a bad rap in the U.S., but Chinese people love cabbage. We even have an idiom extolling its virtues—百菜不如白菜 (bǎi cài bùrú báicài), meaning “a hundred vegetables are not...

Sichuan Braised Chicken with Chestnut + Shiitake (Banli Shaoji, 板栗烧鸡)

Cooking With Pixian Doubanjiang: Braised Chicken Sichuan braised chicken with chestnut and shiitake (板栗烧鸡, bǎnlì shāojī) in a dutch oven requires minimal babysitting for maximum flavor. Ma’s side of the family prepares shaoji with whole chicken and traditional taro obbligato, but this recipe combines bone-in chicken legs, roasted chestnuts and dried shiitake with the usual Pixian hongyou douban for everyday shaoji (within the hour!). The fact that we now call this dish “everyday” says it all. One godless fall day in her early youth, Mala Mama and her two older...

aromatic chili oil in glass sealed jar

Aromatic Sichuan Chili Oil (Xiangla Hongyou, 香辣红油)

Lajiaoyou the Mainland Sichuan Way, ft. Caiziyou (Pt. 2) Picture this: It’s Fall 2021 and you’re making your own aromatic Sichuan chili oil at home, ready to shovel down yesterday’s leftovers with an onslaught of 红油 (hóngyóu), literally “red oil,” straight from the (gorgeous! reusable! glass!) jar. The Mala Market’s 菜籽油 (càizǐyóu)/roasted rapeseed oil is in stock, Adele just dropped her six-year-comeback divorce album, Seasonal Affective Disorder has yet to creep in, and now your hongyou chaoshou game has never been better. Life is good. The first whiffs of five-spice...

Sichuan Hot and Sour Shredded Potato (Suanla Tudousi, 酸辣土豆丝)

Weeknight Shredded Potato There comes a time in every potato’s life when it graduates out of the larder to emerge peeled, quartered, cubed, sliced, hasselbacked, mashed, puréed, you name it. In China, you’ll also find Sichuan Hot and Sour Shredded Potato (酸辣土豆丝, suānlà tǔdòusī), a stir-fry mainstay in restaurants and homes. Though shredding is a common Chinese potato treatment, it remains a niche cut in the U.S., favored only for its breakfast potential. Yes, suanla tudousi’s closest living ‘Murican relative is the griddle-fried shredded potato hash brown at your favorite...

a white porcelain jar with chili oil in it with a metal spoonful of the chili oil and a bottle of caiziyou oil in the background

Sichuan Chili Oil Recipe ft. Caiziyou (Lajiaoyou, 辣椒油)

Lajiaoyou the Mainland Sichuan Way, ft. Caiziyou When it comes to this Sichuan chili oil recipe, variations abound—but all share three core factors: chilis, oil and heat. Lately, the stateside popularity of dressed up chili oil (make it crispy! with aromatics! with douchi!) has soared. But throw in middling chilis, the sundry tasteless oils available outside of China, and a flimsy grasp of temperature control? Some of that chili oil’s more dressed down than up. So if you’ve wondered why your chili oil doesn’t seem that spicy, or how to...

Cured Pork Belly Stir-fry (Chao Larou, 炒腊肉)

Once-Cooked Pork, Revisited This pork belly stir-fry pays homage to an old series on the blog, Cooking with Pixian Doubanjiang. Longtime readers may notice the similarity to “once-cooked pork” in Sichuan bean sauces. While that used bacon as a stand-in for Chinese cured pork belly (腊肉, làròu), this features the real deal—if you missed it, big news! Kathy has been teaching readers how to make their own Sichuan wind-cured pork belly. Last month, we presented seven ways to smoke, boil, steam and stir-fry the finished product. Now, we’re bringing you the eighth way....

Sichuan mala hot pot with beef tallow

Sichuan Mala Hotpot, From Scratch (Mala Huoguo with Tallow Broth)

Hotpot Party at Your House Although this recipe for mala hotpot first published in early 2018 is the most popular recipe on our entire blog, we have revised and updated it as of November 2020. Why? Well, when I first developed it, there weren’t many recipes for Sichuan hotpot online in English—and none at all, that I could find, that included beef fat (tallow), a style of hotpot broth widely loved in Chongqing and Chengdu. There probably were Chinese-language online videos and recipes for it, but they were less accessible...