A tasty Chengdu (similar to the traditional Mala sauce) dipping sauce for cold poached chicken or dry roasted duck.
The biggest challenge for beginner cooks is where to start. It’s all about practice and time management. The first thing to do is simply go down a check list to see if you have everything. If not, well, get it.
You simply must use at least a little Szechuan pepper or you really can’t call it Sichuan (四川). It has this very unique taste and effect. Black pepper will kinda work, but it’s sort of a “sigh” compared to the tongue numbing taste of Sichuan pepper. I also grind my spices fresh to impart a strength into the sauce that can not be matched.
- 1/2 tsp oil
- 1/2 tsp chili oil
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1/8 tsp Szechuan peppercorn
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorn
- 2 scallions minced
- 3 inch piece of ginger minced (~2 TBL)
- 4 large garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock from the Chinese Poached Chicken recipe
- 1/4 cup Tamari reduced sodium (gluten free) soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Chinese black vinegar
- Take the cumin seeds (earthy, musty flavors), black peppercorns (for lower level heat), fennel seeds (for a fresh edge), cumin seeds (earth, musty tones) and grind them. Turn them into a rough powder. Dip that pinky. Taste. It should numb your tongue a bit. Oh, yeah, that's the taste of Chengdu! Put aside.
- Then mince the scallions, ginger and garlic. Don't use a food processor. You will lose important liquids if you do. Get these on the cutting board quick before you have a chance to second guess it.
- Then measure out all these fun ingredients and put aside: Chili oil (from a good vendor), Veggie oil
- Soy sauce (Tamari gluten-free), Black vinegar (chinkiang), Sugar, Chicken Stock
- Get a non-stick pan on medium-high. Toss in spices and stir for about 1 minute - until the air is fragrant or your coughing, whatever comes first. You are "blooming" the spices here. Not burning them.
- Add chili and veggie oil into the pan. Stir around for 30 seconds.
- Toss in minced scallions, ginger and sugar for 1 min. Oh wow, I love it...it's coming together.
- Then toss in garlic (since it burns easier) and all other liquid ingredients from above. Let that cook for only 1 minute.
- Pour into a glass container and bring to room temp. Cover and chill. Do not serve the same day. Give it a day in the fridge so everything can marry.
Culinary Note: I like heat and can take a lot of spice, but I still want to be able to taste my meal so I use it sparingly.
This is where you can impress people. This shows your culinary diversity. Use the word "bloom" a lot.