Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Crunchi Chili

老干妈 !!! Put this on your shopping list for your next trip to the Chinese grocery store. Lao Gan Ma Oil Chilli is a brilliant and tasty mix of "crunch" red chili pieces and peanuts in vegetable oil. Cost: under 2 bucks. Oil Chilli makes a great dipping sauce for dumplings and a wonderful addition to almost any meal. This is more than a condiment. You can use Oil Chilli in a variety of ways. I tried oil chilli with Ping's baozu (steamed pork dumplings a/k/a Chinese hamburgers) in Shenzhen last winter and I was hooked. The flavor is subtle and seductive. It's hot, but not painfully hot. The oil helps bring out the deep rich flavor of the red chili pieces and the chili oil soaked peanuts are a special treat.

The Lao Gan Ma Company in Guiyang, China specializes in "chilli foods" and there's an interesting variety of products on store shelves. Their website has product descriptions and company information in English/corporate Chinglish. They have been certified as a "Green Food" in China and you can also see the company's Honest Enterprises Of Pay Taxes certification. (My newest pastime is surfin' Chinese websites...) I've tried their hot pot condiment and tofu in chilli oil. These are excellent, too, but I'm hooked on the "crunchy" chili. They also make a version without peanuts. The company's website boasts "Over 1000 ″LaoGanMa″staff and workers produce 430,000 jars of chili foods per day, achieving the yearly output value approach in USD 50 million" and plans for the future that includes "an″aircraft carrier″of chili processing industry is being under construction." This I've got to see...