After that amazing Peking duck dinner we had on Sunday I’ve been craving Chinese food. One of the things we bought when we went to Beijing two years ago was a jar of hot chili sauce that had peanuts in it. My parents tried to see if they could find a source on-line where they could buy some more when they ran out, and discovered that the company who made it had gone out of business. We’ve since tried many different sauces trying to find one that is as good. No luck yet . I was thinking about that sauce a couple of days ago and decided to try my hand at making homemade chili paste. It was surprisingly easy and cheap to do. The result was a potent but flavorful paste. I filled two half-quart jars, keeping one for the Fujis and giving one to my parents. This paste is good on so many things–Chinese food, steamed veggies, stir fry, eggs, meat, etc. Use any combination of your favorite dried peppers (I used mostly medium-spicy Chiles Japones and threw in a couple of Tientsin chilies for extra heat).
Hot Chili Garlic Paste
Makes about 1 quart
3 oz. of any combination of your favorite dried chili peppers
2 Tbsp. grapeseed or vegetable oil
3 cloves peeled garlic (optional)
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
Additional oil of choice to cover the top of paste with oil when finished (optional)
1. Put the chilies in a bowl and cover with boiling water and a small plate to keep them submerged. (I used an otoshi buta, a bamboo drop lid that is used in Japanese cooking, but you can use anything that will work.) Soak for about 30 minutes, or until chilies are soft.
2. Wearing gloves to protect your hands, clean each chili, remove the stem, and then slit open and scrape out the seeds. (I kept about 1/3 of my seeds for extra heat.) This part makes a mess and takes a while!
3. Put the cleaned chilies and any of the seeds you want to use in a food processor. Add the oil, 2 large pinches of salt, and the garlic and puree.
4. Add water, rice wine vinegar, and toasted sesame oil and continue to puree until consistency is a thick paste.
5. Use immediately or cool, pour a layer of oil over the top, cover tightly, and refrigerate. The paste can be stored this way in the refrigerator for several months. If you choose not to cover it in oil it can be kept refrigerated for about 10 days.
Coming Friday: Whip up a little something to spread your chili garlic paste on.