Spice Shopping in Sichuan

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Chengdu spice market haul featuring bags of whole dried chilies, ground chilies, sichuan pepper, and more
Enough Sichuan pepper to last a lifetime, plus chili peppers and sauces, from my favorite vendors in Chengdu

A Spicy Girl Shops for Spices

I just returned from a trip to Chengdu (and Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai). I never get enough of Sichuan, which may explain why I always try to bring all its goodies back with me. This is just some of the Sichuan spicy stuff I stuffed in my luggage, bought at Chengdu’s jaw-dropping wholesale spice market, its fascinating supermarkets and wet markets and a sidewalk artisan food stall with the best sauces on earth (really!):

  • Three kinds of freshly dried Sichuan chili peppers, or lajiao, from mild to hot, plus chili flakes, from the Chengdu spice market
  • Four kinds of Sichuan pepper, or huajiao, straight from Hanyuan County: two packages of dried red, one of dried green, and one of fresh green Sichuan pepper, still on the vine, bought at the Chengdu spice market
  • One package of the best Pixian doubanjiang (chili bean paste), purchased onsite at Sichuan’s original douban factory
  • Two artisan sauces from a Pixian street vendor: a douchi (black bean) sauce with chili peppers and Sichuan pepper, and a chili oil with crispy chili flakes and a variety of nuts
  • A package of spicy pickled Jerusalem artichoke from the same Pixian street vendor

I’ll be writing more about this trip and my latest finds in Chengdu, but for now, here are my shopping highlights.

Chengdu spice market seller surrounded by heaping piles of fresh and dried chilies, chili powders, Sichuan pepper huajiao, and more
One of hundreds of spice merchants at Chengdu’s wholesale spice market
Two women, Chengdu spice market sellers, on the ground sorting a floor full of vibrant red chilies, with boxes and loads of spices behind them
These Spicy Girls (as Sichuan women are called) are clearly enjoying their work sorting chili peppers
Chengdu spice market sellers, all women, pictured standing in front of their piles of fresh and dried chili and spice products with a young child being carried in one of the women's arms
My absolute favorite spice merchants, so friendly and helpful, with great advice on the best peppers
Chengdu street food and sauces for sale by big open porcelain and metal bowls on a large wraparound vender table in a spice market
A Chengdu street vendor selling pickled and preserved sauces, vegetables and snacks made in Pixian County
Chengdu street food on a vendor table showing 7+ varieties of chili oils and and chili sauces, including artisan-made douchi (black bean) sauce
Unbelievably delicious, artisan-made douchi (black bean) sauces and chili oils
Chengdu street food showing porcelain bowls of pickled vegetables
To-die-for pickled vegetables; I know because I sampled them all and came home with the best 

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In December 2016, we opened an online SHOP to sell products such as these described here, imported direct from Sichuan spice markets. We have the widest range of Sichuan chili peppers and the freshest Sichuan pepper you’ll find in the U.S.

 

About Taylor Holliday

The Mala Market all began when Taylor, a former journalist, created this blog as a place to document her adventures learning to cook Sichuan food for Fongchong, her recently adopted 11-year-old daughter. They discovered through the years that the secret to making food that tastes like it would in China is using the same ingredients that are used in China. The mother-daughter team eventually began visiting Sichuan’s factories and farms together and, in 2016, opened The Mala Market, America’s source for Sichuan heritage brands and Chinese pantry essentials.

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1 Comment

  1. THERE IS A MARKET FOR GANSU PROVENCE BLACK FLAX SEED COOKING OIL AND MORE IMPORTANTLY YUNAN PROVENCE LACKER TREE COOKING OIL AS NOBODY ELSE IS CARRYING THESE PRODUCTS.KINDLY CONSIDER THESE ITEMS FOR YOUR COLLECTION AND OBLIGE.HAPPY THANKSGIVING!