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tony b

The latest "crack" in my pantry

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OK, had been reading about this latest trend in foodie world - crispy hot sauce from China. It's loaded with fried garlic and onions, to add texture to what otherwise would just be a Mala sauce (chiles & Szechuan peppercorns in oil). I actually ended up trying this one, which is made in the US, as it was getting equally good reviews on Amazon to the "standard" Chinese version.

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The jar arrived yesterday, so of course I had to try it out on dinner! It went on sauteed green beans and mushrooms. Plated with a nice lemon pepper honey mustard pork chop. Pork chop on the main grate, direct, 350F. Lemon pepper rub to start and then sauced with the lemon pepper honey mustard sauce. 

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OK, now I see what all the foodie buzz is about - this stuff is good! Glad that I only went 3 stars hot and not the 4 star version (which has ghost peppers in it!) Nice heat, love the crunchy texture it added. Will be experimenting more with it. I hear that it's great in scrambled eggs? 

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The Mala Market

By now I've bought nearly everything they sell. The draw was the best Sichuan bean paste obtainable outside China. Their best vinegar, best soy sauce I had only dreamed about before. I have nearly every chile they sell, multiple grades of Sichuan pepper.

I'd like to think my Chinese cooking is better because of me, but I know it's sourcing.

 

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@tony bis this stuff the same do you think?  If so, I shall have a good laugh with my best friend.  She is Welsh and doesn't particularly like chillis but two weeks ago she sent me this photo and said, "Have you tried this stuff? Gosh its good."  

I thought a) it can't be better than the chilli oil with dried shrimp that I make from an A.Wong recipe and b) what do you know about chillis anyway?  If it turns out that she was ahead of me on this one she will die laughing.  Good thing is, she didn't die of COVID when she caught it and in fact just got better self-isolating at home.  The side effect is that her temporary (?) loss of taste means that she is now up for eating more chilli!

 

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Yep, that's the "classic" version that I was reading about that got me going on this. So your friend is ahead of you on this one. (btw - hope her loss of taste is indeed temporary!)

Your version based on A. Wong's recipe, with the dried shrimp - is that a version of XO sauce - the other "hot" (pun intended) Asian condiment right now!

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4 hours ago, tony b said:

Yep, that's the "classic" version that I was reading about that got me going on this. So your friend is ahead of you on this one. (btw - hope her loss of taste is indeed temporary!)

Your version based on A. Wong's recipe, with the dried shrimp - is that a version of XO sauce - the other "hot" (pun intended) Asian condiment right now!

My friend got COVID in early December and thinks her taste is mostly back now.  The advantage(?) of the loss is that she now likes chillis.  We shall have fun when we can visit again.

The dried shrimp and chilli oil is just oil, dried shrimp, chilli paste and chlli flakes.  Super delicious. I cannot find his recipe online but I could see others.  Looking at the ingredients for XO sauce, it looks like an amped up version of that chilli oil.  

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Yeah, XO has a special Chinese ham in it, along with the dried seafoods (shrimp & scallops). Given that I love a good fish sauce - both Asian and Italian, I might have to give this a go next?

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I will have to give this hot oil a try. TIA.

If you like premium hot sauces for bbq may I also suggest Truff Hot sauce. This is my favorite BBQ binder of all time. Chicken wings, brisket, Boston Butt, you name it I put that sh*t on everything to allow the rub to stick. And the truffle really adds a nice subtle umami flavor to BBQ.
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Interesting combo for sure. I would have thought that the chili peppers would just overwhelm the truffle? But, I noticed that it's made with truffle "essence," code word for artificial truffle flavor. So, they can compensate with just adding more truffle flavor. Most food products that claim to have truffle in them have been made in a chemistry lab. The reason that truffles are so expensive is that they are first off, very rare, and second, a major pain to harvest (specially trained pigs & dogs). Not knocking the product - hell, I have fake black truffle oil from Trader Joe's in my pantry, just keeping it real. 

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I believe it is made with real truffle oil. Personally I find the Truffle flavor to be over powering directly on food. But I think it is perfect as a binder for a subtle umami and heat pop! I prefer the hotter red bottle but most people I cook for like just the standard black which is less heat and more sweet with agave in it.


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Truffle is a very strong flavor and aroma, if you've even had it plain, so it doesn't take very much at all. The upside of being so expensive.

One of the chef tricks is if you're making truffle omelets, you put a small piece of truffle in a plastic bag with the eggs, still in the shell, and let them "marinate" for a couple of days. The egg shells are permeable and the truffle flavor infuses the eggs without overpowering them, plus you can do a lot of eggs with just a small piece of truffle! 

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One of life's great pleasures is to eat in Italy when a particular ingredient is in season.  When white truffles are in they are (relatively) cheap and are used generously on eggs, steak, pasta, anything and everything.  Don't judge truffles by the overpriced stuff we get in our shops.  Getting truffles direct from the man who went out with his dog to find and dig them up the day before feels like a drug deal and gives you the same high.  Note: I am not advocating drug taking but I do advocate that you don't pass on truffles if you get to eat them close to source.  

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1 hour ago, tony b said:

Pssst, hey man, wanna buy some white truffles - good shit, man, grew them myself!

You jest.  Getting hold of the best truffles in season and at the right price involves going into the back of shops or standing at a particular place at a particular time, waiting for your "drop".  I write down the price per gram each time and the further you get from the person who dug it up themselves, the higher the price got.  Unsurprisingly.  The best deal was this bag of free black truffles that a friend passed on to us when he and others had had a full day of truffle related cooks and could not finish the haul that they had somehow wangled from somewhere.  Truffles.  The real deal. 

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On 2/13/2021 at 10:09 PM, tony b said:

WOW! That's a small fortune in that bag. What a gift, indeed!

I've been meaning to come back to this post Tony.  The point of posting the story and the picture of all those truffles was to illustrate the opposite.  Well, not quite.  It was indeed a lovely gift.  The point is that, in season, truffles are abundant and accessible to many more people than would even dream of buying them elsewhere in the world.  Black truffles are relatively cheap in season and our friends had the equivalent of a chilli cook off, but with truffles.  

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