Monday, October 25, 2010

please help! what is this Chinese condiment?

This random jar has been sitting in my fridge for several months now. I cautiously dip in and out of it occasionally. What is it? All that Chinese that I can't read! Can you please help me?

It's a slightly odd story of how I got this jar of mystery stuff. I didn't buy it at my local store as a try-me ingredient. Oh, no. It was destined for greater things than my refrigerator, this jar, but never made it there. The story goes like this.

My parents have a Chinese student as a lodger. They live in Canada, and Jeff (his English name) is going to university in their city. But when Mum and Dad came to visit me we all went up to Shenzhen to visit his mother. We got the royal tour around the city, her house, and her business, with the help of a translator. We ate some extremely tasty food with her extended family--none of whom spoke English. We had massages, stayed the night, and then returned the next day to Hong Kong.

Jeff's mum packed up a big bag of things to send to him in Canada. He complains about my mother's cooking: "too bland!" So this jar of goopy, spicy stuff was for him. His mother also collected dried spices, oils, vinegars, and some packet mixes. A huge bagful of goodies from home for the lonely foodie.

Jeff's care package was dutifully packed up by my parents. But the inevitable happened: some items were too heavy, others too breakable. As a result, I inherited a bottle of Chianking vinegar (a regular appearance-maker in my cooking now), and this baffling bottle.

What has been sad for Jeff has been a gift for me. I started to cook with this spicy sauce anyway. After heating the oil in a pan, I put a small (infinitesimal at first!) spoonful in. The smell it gives off is spicy and strong. Then I add a huge panful of greens or fry up some special fried rice, and the flavour is hot and deep. I like it a lot--and I'd like to know to how to use it properly.

Who can please put me out of my suspense? What is this bizarre condiment? How can I make the most of it?


Becky said...

It's a chilli sauce , I buy in in Chinese Supermarket here in the UK from one of their websites

Like you I use it for stir frys it contains

Vegetable Oil, Chilli (35%), Onion, Soybean, Salt, Sugar, Sichuan Peppercorn, Flavour Enhancer (Monosodium Glutamate).

Hope it's helpful to know what's in it

Sarah said...

Wow--I'm so glad I asked, Becky. Thanks for commenting!

I am wondering what else to use it in. Can anyone else enlighten me? Ideas heartily welcomed.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

It looks like a chilli sauce we used to enjoy in my favourite chinese fast food place - Stick and Bowl on Kensington High St. I used to love it and have never found it in any chinese shops.

Unknown said...

Hi Sarah,

This Laoganma Shang La Chui. Though there are a few other flavours also available in the market I assume it to be this one due to its dark colour which is similar to one of those pictures you posted.

The ingredients are:
Vegetable oil, chilli, onion, soybean, salt, sugar, szechuan peppercorns, monosodium glutamate.

In short, it is chilli in oil.

You can use them to stir fry rice, veggies, noodles or also in soups. You can also serve them as a dipping sauce with dumplings.

It is one of the most popular chilli sauces & you can get it in the only Asian market in the DC Area which is Kam Sam Chinese Market in Annandale.
Also, there are some websites from where you can order to get this & other flavours of these sauces & pastes.

Hope I could help. :)

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