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. Delicious, Quick Side Dishes
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
How to Make It
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.
The chile paste can be refrigerated for up to 3 months.
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