Do you like Sichuan food? Do you want to spice up your dish with a pungent and appetizing flavor? Cook this versatile chili garlic sauce and you can easily create your favorite Sichuan dishes in under 20 minutes!
In this post, I will discuss:
– The inspiration for creating this recipe
– Why use this recipe
– An example of how to use the master sauce by itself
– More quick & yummy Recipes by using this sauce
Before I started talking about this amazing sauce, I need to thank Nagi of RecipeTin Eats for this wonderful idea! When Nagi created this super convenient and versatile Chinese all purpose stir fry sauce, she told me that a reader would also like to cook a Sichuan all purpose sauce but she couldn’t find the recipe. I thought it’s a brilliant idea. I am a big fan of Sichuan food, and I wanted to create a sauce I could use to cook all my favorite Sichuan dishes in no time.
However, when I started this mission, I found the recipe development not as easy as I thought. For authentic Sichuan food, there are so many flavors beyonds spiciness. For the mainstream Sichuan flavors, there are:
Mapo, 麻婆 – the classic mapo tofu has a deep savory and numb flavor from Sichuan peppercorn and fermented chili bean paste.
Yu xiang, 鱼香 – directly translated, means “fish fragrant”, it has a spicy, sweet, and sour flavor. The ingredients include vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar (very close to kung pao, but with more sour and sweet flavor).
Ma la, 麻辣 – or numb spicy flavor, uses a lot of Sichuan peppercorn to create a numbing taste.
Guai wei, 怪味 – directly translated into weird flavor (it sounds weird, I know). It uses Chinese sesame paste, vinegar, and sugar to create a nutty aroma with a sweet, sour, spicy flavor.
(There are a few more authentic flavors, but they’re less known outside of China.)
So you can see, it is impossible to include everything in this one sauce.
However, I did find some common characteristics and a few shared ingredients among all the flavors. In the end, I created this Sichuan all purpose chili garlic sauce – to be used as a master sauce.
Why this recipe
– Save you tons of time chopping garlic and cutting chili peppers every time you want to cook a simple dish.
– Adds a kick to a normal stir fried dish and turns its taste into authentic Sichuan within a minute.
– You can spend an extra 3 minutes to blend a few (very few) more ingredients to the master sauce and turn it into any of the mainstream flavors listed above. So, making this master sauce really puts 5 sauces at your disposal.
– The sauce gets even better after being stored for a while.
– Your friends will be amazed at how you can cook your favorite spicy shrimp dish in 5 minutes (get recipe here).
One example of using the master sauce by itself
The day I created this sauce, I cooked a stir fried spicy chicken wing dish. I know it’s a bit strange to use wings in a stir-fry, but that’s the only thing I had in my fridge that day.
What I did is marinate 10 wings with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch (a very standard marinade for almost any protein) for 10 minutes. I heated 2 teaspoons oil with 2 tablespoon chopped green onion. I grilled the chicken on stove top until cooked through and slightly charred. And added a chopped green pepper (Chinese jalapeno) and mixed in 2 tablespoons of this chili garlic sauce in the end. And voila, a Sichuan style stir fried chicken was ready in 20 minutes.
Only one thing to take note of, you should always add a generous amount of the master sauce to give the dish a nice flavor. I will generally use 2 tablespoons of the sauce for a normal stir fried dish (which serves two), but I might use up to 4 tablespoons if I have many ingredients (for a dish that serves four). So depending on the type of chili pepper you use, the dish might end up quite spicy. Read the footnote in the recipe about creating a less spicy sauce.
Use this all-purpose chili garlic sauce to cook:
What is your favorite Sichuan dish? Drop a note below if you’re looking for a Sichuan recipe, and I can create it for you! 🙂
Sichuan All Purpose Chili Garlic Sauce
To cook the sauce
- Use scissors to cut each chili pepper into 4 to 5 pieces. Prepare ginger and garlic.
- Add oil and peppercorn to a wok (or small skillet) and heat over medium heat. When the peppercorns start sizzling, continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until they turn dark brown and you can smell a pungent fragrance. If the oil starts to smoke, turn to lowest heat. Remove the peppercorns with a straining ladle or spatula and discard them.
- Add chili peppers and cook over low heat until the color darkens. This will happen very quickly, in less than 1 minute, if you’re using a gas stove.
- Add ginger and garlic and give it a quick stir. Add chili bean paste and sugar and continue to cook over low heat until everything is mixed well and you can smell a strong garlicky aroma, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off heat and transfer everything to a large plate to cool off.
- When the sauce has cooled, transfer it to a clean jar. You can store the sauce at room temperature for a month or in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Use the master sauce to cook meat, poultry, and/or vegetables
- You can add the chili garlic sauce into any stir fried dish at the end of cooking and mix well. The dish will be infused with a pungent and hot flavor just as in authentic Sichuan dishes (example below).
- Slice or cube half a pound of meat or poultry into bite sized pieces. Chop 2 cups vegetables.
- Marinate meat or poultry with 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet (or wok) and cook the protein until the surface is cooked but is still raw inside. (Skip this if you’re cooking a vegetable dish)
- Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in the skillet (or wok) until warm and add minced ginger (or green onion) to infuse flavor. Add veggies and cook until almost cooked through.
- Add cooked meat back into skillet. (Skip this if you’re cooking a vegetable dish)
- Add 2 tablespoons chili sauce with salty seasoning (about 1/2 salt or 1 spoonful light soy sauce). Mix well and adjust seasoning.
To use the sauce with other seasonings to create a new sauce
- (option 1) Combine the chili garlic sauce with other ingredients such as soy sauce, black vinegar, Sichuan peppercorn powder, spicy fermented bean paste and / or sugar, and then use as a sauce for stir frying. It will create a lot of authentic Sichuan flavor, like that found in yu xiang (literally “fish fragrant”, practically spicy, sweet, and sour), xiang la (sweet spicy), mapo (savory spicy).
- (option 2) You can also add it to oyster sauce or hoisin sauce to spice up a comforting American Chinese dish.
- More detailed recipes are coming soon.