When it comes to achieving your favorite Chinese food flavors, chili sauce is a can’t-miss ingredient. It’s versatile, delicious, and full of bold spices that will take any dish to the next level. You can use chili sauce in more traditional recipes, mix it up as a breakfast condiment, or dip your favorite dishes in a chili sauce side.
Here at Fly By Jing, we’re dedicated to sharing the spices and oils that make it easy to cook up Chinese dishes in your own kitchen. And when it comes to personalizing ingredients and flavors, we have the resources and recipes that will bring those great plates home. Chili sauce is the perfect place to start.
What is Chili Sauce
Sichuan regional cuisine is traditionally spicy and features hot flavors—and chili sauce is the perfect example. The Sichuan region of China has a wide range of climates, but the humidity of the environment means that spicy peppers like the Sichuan pepper, tribute pepper, and Erjingtiao grow in abundance. Those bright ingredients are used to create many sauces and oils, and chili sauce is one of them.
Chili sauce can be adjusted for both heat level and sweetness, so you can pair it with many great dishes that are both sweet or savory. It also includes the kick of crushed garlic, as well as added chili flakes, a little sugar, and soy sauce. In addition to great flavors, it also adds texture to all your favorite dishes.
Chili Sauce History
Chili sauce has a unique history that owes a lot of its success to the brand Lao Gan Ma, which features a stern-looking woman on the package. It is little wonder why the name translates to “old godmother” and little wonder that the sauce has seen steady success since it was first introduced to the shelves in 1997, after the founder Tao Huabi’s noodle shop grew in popularity from the same flavors.
Now, there are many variations of the original, all of which have their own personalized take on the things that make chili sauce so great. Not only do we offer chili crisp and chili ingredient flavors here at Fly By Jing, but we also make it easy to add your own spin when making chili sauce at home.
How to Make Chili Sauce at Home
Whether you’re just getting started on your Chinese food cooking journey or you’ve been practicing for years, chili sauce is an easy and inspired dish that you’ll love making time and again. Here’s what you need to know about making chili sauce.
It only takes a few ingredients to put together a delicious batch of homemade chili sauce, but that makes each one important. When you’re ready to begin making chili sauce at home, here are the ingredients you’ll want to have on hand.
Chili Peppers: The types of peppers you use in your chili sauce can really change the palate of the dish. You can use Sichuan or tribute peppers, jalapeno peppers, or even dried peppers if you’re in a pinch. Explore your favorite flavors and match your pepper pick to the dish you’ll be serving with your chili sauce.
Garlic: Chili sauce blends peppers with the minced garlic flavor and texture for a totally unique eating experience. You can use a food processor or crush up your garlic with a press.
Neutral Oil: If you’re cooking Chinese food at home, you’ll want to have a good amount of neutral oil on hand, like peanut or canola oil. It’s used in many dishes, including stir-fries and fried dishes. It’s also used to make your chili sauce and oils.
Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is one of those Chinese food pantry staples that adds your favorite flavors to many great Chinese food dishes.
Sugar: One of the reasons that chili sauce goes so well on sweet dishes (ice cream? Yes, please!) is because it has a small dash of sugar to balance out some of the savory and spicy flavors from the vegetables.
Other ingredients can include salt, white vinegar, and corn starch for thickening. If you want to add a little extra spice to your dish, Sichuan chili flakes are a great addition to any chili sauce.
Chili Sauce Recipe
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, it’s time to put together your chili sauce.
Step One: Grind your chilis. You can use a blender or mix them by hand, but you don’t want them to be too fine. Set it aside.
Step Two: Mince or food process your garlic.
Step Three: Bring your oil to heat. You don’t want to fry the chilis or the garlic, so it’s a good idea to start your heat off low and then increase the temperature if necessary. Let your garlic fry for about 30-40 minutes on low heat. Then add the chilis.
Step Four: Add more oil and your other ingredients, including sugar, soy sauce, and chili flakes. Combine and add salt as necessary.
Jar your chili sauce and keep for a few months when properly stored.
What Goes Well With Chili Sauce?
Chili sauce goes with so many great dishes, but here are just a few of our favorite combos.
Spicy Sichuan Noodles
One of the reasons we love Chinese noodles is because they’re so versatile. If you’re looking to give your favorite noodle dish a little extra kick, then chili sauce is a great way to go. This spicy Sichuan noodle dish combines ingredients like peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and garlic for a sweet and spicy flavor that you can cook up in just a few minutes. Top with your fresh chili sauce.
Chili sauce was made for stir fry—or stir fry was made for chili sauce! You can swap out all of your favorite ingredients in the stir fry to find the best combination of vegetables and meats to match your sweet and spicy chili sauce.
Stir fry dishes can contain meats like chicken, pork, or beef or can be comprised of leafy and crunchy vegetables and mixed with oils and sauces for a classic Chinese food flavor. When you add your chili sauce, you’ll enjoy the ultimate combination of taste, textures, and spices.
Dumplings are a Chinese food dish that can be easily adjusted to fit any dietary restriction and flavor, and you can make them meat-based or vegetarian. Dumplings are a great food for testing out your favorite dips and condiments because you can make them as subtle or bold as you want. Add in fillings that pair well with spicy flavors and mix and match to find your favorites.
If you like starting your day with a kick, consider adding your chili sauce to breakfast! Not only will it give your favorite egg dish a bold and spicy flavor, but the extra texture from the crunchy garlic and pepper goes well on toast, over morning vegetables like avocados, or even on hash browns.
We know! It seems like the most unlikely combination, but the sweet and spicy notes in your new chili sauce can elevate all of your favorite ice cream flavors. Try it out with something neutral like vanilla, or mix it into fruity flavors like mango or coconut for an epic combination of tastes that bring a dessert to a whole new level.
Like many great ingredients that you’ll find in Chinese cooking, Chinese chili sauce can be used for a wide variety of dishes and can be paired with many excellent flavors. You can mix and match it with your favorite Chinese food meals, like dumplings, noodles, and stir fry, or you can add it to non-traditional dishes. The only limit is your imagination and what’s in your pantry!
And speaking of pantries… Fly by Jing is here to help you fill your pantry with the flavors, spices, and oils that bring Chinese cooking home. We want to make it easier to both create your favorite Chinese food dishes in your own kitchen and to put a totally unique and modern twist on them that fits the flavors you enjoy most.
Chili sauce is one of those dishes that you’ll want to continue making time and again, so explore our growing recipe book and start cooking up great recipes to serve it with today.