This Sichuan Chili Sauce is one of the condiments that I always keep in my fridge (because it lasts for months!) and use as a go-to whenever I need a little kick to my Chinese dishes. I love spicy food. But I also like to taste the nuances of flavors that make a dish interesting. It can't blow my mind if it blows my palate, if you know what I mean. This Sichuan Chili Sauce is the kind of sauce that you keep around and simply eat on EVERYTHING! Better than just spicy, it has a bit of sweetness and lots of umami, so grilled vegetables never tasted better!
What Makes a Dish Sichuan?
Usually, when people refer to a dish being Sichuan, they associate it with hot, tongue-numbing heat. However, what I love about true Sichuan food is that the flavors are layered with aromatics, sweets, and sours. For example, this Sichuan chili sauce uses- of course- chilis. In addition, it also uses a chili oil filled with aromatics like star anise, cinnamon, clove, and tingling Sichuan peppercorn. It's balanced with sweetness and the tang of rice wine vinegar and pumped with umami using fermented Chinese black beans.
How Spicy is this Sichuan Chili Sauce?
The answer is, this sauce is as spicy as you want it to be. The magic of making homemade condiments is that you can control exactly how spicy it is. In this fast recipe, I use a pre-made chili paste as well as a homemade Sichuan Chili Oil. The chili oil adds more flavor than heat, so I would not adjust that, but you can alter the spiciness by how much chili paste you add. The level of this recipe, as it is written, is of medium heat.
You Can Freeze It!
This sauce will keep up to two months in the refrigerator. However, if you think that you will use this sauce only occasionally, you can freeze it in ice cube trays. Simply pop them out once they're frozen and store in a zip lock bag. The cubes of sauce will keep frozen for up to 6 months and you can pull them out one at a time.
What to Eat with Sichuan Chili Sauce
Because this sauce is so easy to make and keep, I tend to use it any time I am craving a little spice. Grab for it as easily as you may grab that bottle of sriracha sauce or sambal sitting around. This sauce packs more flavor than either of those! Great on roasted vegetables, or thin with a little water or soy sauce to use on rice or noodles. Also, check out this recipe for Clay Pot Tofu. It's one of the ways I use it in combination with other ingredients for a complete dish. Stir this into stir fry and noodles or spice up your rice and veggies.
Got Dumplings? I say: Got Chili Sauce??
Sichuan Chili Sauce
- Rinse the black beans, swirling with your hand in running water to remove some of the outer salt. Then, let soak in cold water for 30 minutes.
- Once the beans have been soaked, rinse and drain and then chop. Place in a mixing bowl.
- Add the mala chili paste to the bowl. The amount of chili paste added controls how spicy your recipe is, so add more or less to taste.
- Next add the ketchup.
- Add the vinegar.
- Add the sugar.
- Finally, add the Sichuan chili oil.
- Whisk ingredients together to combine. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- When done, the sauce should be a deep, rich red color with flecks of texture from the chopped black beans and chili oil