Hot Chile Paste
- SERVINGS: MAKES ABOUT 3/4 CUP
There is no single chile paste (lajiao jiang) in China, any more than there is a single salsa in Mexico. It serves as an ingredient in the kitchen and as a condiment at the table. Having tried many bottled versions over the years, we can assure you that by far the best chile paste is the one you make yourself.
- 1 cup loosely packed dried red chiles (1 ounce), rinsed
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar or rice vinegar
- In a heatproof bowl, cover the chiles with the boiling water. Place a small plate on the chiles to keep them submerged and soak until pliable, at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- Transfer the chiles and their soaking liquid to a blender and puree. Blend in the salt and sugar.