More on spicy Chinese food

Sauces and pastes

Chillies are used to give piquancy to sauces served with fried chicken. An example of this use is Chinese Chilli chicken.  The sauce for Chinese Chilli chicken is made made with bell peppers, Chillies, lemon juice, soya, garlic, ginger and honey.

Chillies are also used to make a bean paste called  Doubanjiang . This Chilli bean paste is an essential part of Sichuan cooking. It is made with fermented soya or

Chinese Chilli paste

broad beans that are blended with salted, fermented Chillies and ground into a paste. This paste may be combined with dried Chillies and Sichuan pepper when preparing certain dishes for excellent flavour.

Char Siu sauce is popular in Southern China. It is made with Chillies, Soya sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic. and Chinese five spice powder. It is used for chicken wings and Char Sui BBQ pork  .

Char sui (fork roast) BBQ Pork is a popular dish not only in China. but all around the world. It can be made with pork belly, pork butt or ribs

Chillies are also used in other popular sauces, like “Shacha “sauce (made with fish, shrimp, chillies, and garlic), Mala sauce (Chillies, Sichuan peppercorns, and spices), Xo sauce (scallops, chillies, shrimp, garlic and onion) and Duo Jiao ( a garlic and ginger sauce used to add flavour to dishes.

Chilli flakes and powders

Làjiāo fēn

Chillies are used to make various Chilli flakes and powders.  Sichuan Chilli flakes are called” Làjiāo fēn “. They are made with Facing Heaven (Chaotianjiao) Chillies,  Xiao mi  or Erjintiao Chillies.  The flakes may contain these Chillies individually, or be combinations of two or even three Chillies.

The dried Chillies used to make Chilli flakes may be roasted or cooked in oil before they are ground. They come in various  coarseness’. Their main use is to add colour and spiciness to food. The red colour of Chinese Chilli flakes is a particularly important element in Chinese cooking.

Besides their use as seasoning.  Chilli flakes are also used to sauces like Chiu Chow This sauce uses no less than a cupful of Sichaun Chilli flakes to make.  The sauce also contains fresh Chillies

Chilli flakes are also an ingredient in making Chilli oils, another essential ingredient in Chinese cooking. Erjingtiao Chilli flakes are popular for making Chilli oils, not only for their rich fragrant flavour.   but also for the robust red colour they provide

Pickled Chillies


Lacto- fermented

Most authentic recipes for Chinese Chilli pickles are lacto- fermented. Chillies are placed into jars with water and salt and allowed to create their own acetic acid (vinegar). This acetic acid is created naturally by lactobacillus bacteria that ferment the Chillies. This not only preserves the Chillies but also provides  a pleasant sour taste to them. It is a process that has been 

Chillies are pickled with vinegar, garlic, and spices. Pao la jiao ( fermented Sichuan pickled Chillies made with salt, dried chillies, water and alcohol) is a typical example of this use.  Chillies commonly used in picking include the Erjingtiao Chilli and the Yellow Lantern Chilli. Another popular pickle is made with the Yeshanjiao Chilli. It is a small Chilli  found wild in the mountains.

Pickled Chillies are mainly used as a condiment. They are , however, also  used as an ingredient. Pickled Chillies are used in Chinese cooking to make Chinese style stews, like red braised ginger pork with pickled Chillies . They are also used in dishes like Yu Xiang Xia Nan Gua ( Chinese courgettes with pickled Chillies). They are also served with seafood

Other uses for Chillies

In addition to using Chillies to make soups like spicy hotpot, which is made from Chillies, Sichuan pepper, (Doubanjiang), tofu, Chinese cabbage and other ingredients, it is also used to make Chinese stews. A typical Chinese stew with Chillies is red braised pork with pickled Chillies


Traditional Chinese medicine and food are closely linked. As well as being used extensively in cooking, Chillies are often prescribed as a medication for many ailments. Chillies are, for example, prescribed for colds. Eating Chillies clears the sinuses and chest

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