We wanna show you how to make zaolajiao? fermented chili sauce.
So Zaolajiao is a chili sauce commonly seen in southwest China.
You may’ve heard it as ‘Zaolazi’ in Yunnan or the more common and popular ‘Duojiao’ from Hunan.
For the chili sauce in these regions, they’re more or less the same.
The difference usually lies in the chili cultivar they use and the ingredient ratio.
How To Make Zaolajiao?
For example, in Hunan they would use a spicier ‘xiaomila’ cultivar and more salt, resulting in a spicier and saltier chili sauce, while
in Guizhou they would use a ‘xianjiao’
cultivar and have a more sour note from the lacto fermentation.
And given how crazy we’re into Guizhou food, we’re making the Guizhou version.
First, let’s talk cultivars.
In Guizhou, they would use this kind of chili that’s called ‘Xianjiao’.
It kind of tastes like a mix between Kashmiri and Sichuan erjingtiao.
For you, you can use a mix of Kashmiri for color, and cayenne for heat.
And for a note on how to use dried chilis,check the description box.
Now first carefully pick your chilis, toss any rotten or broken ones, we want the fine ones only.
Now, gently pick off the green string on your chilis, be careful don’t break the cap, we want the chilis to be intact.
Otherwise, water may get inside when washing and makes the drying process much longer.
Next, washing the chilis.
Get the biggest bucket or pot you have, fill in with water and toss the chilis in.
Give it a gentle shake, take it out on a container, then repeat the process three times.
After washing, we’ll need to dry them.
Take a big bamboo mesh or any wide container you have, spread the chilis out, preferably in the sun to speed it up, we need the washing water on the surface to completely evaporate.
It took us 3~4 hours under the sun on a hot summer day, it may take longer if it’s cloudy or cooler.
Remember to give them a couple of flips every once in a while to help them dry off evenly.
Now the chili surface is completely dry, we can move onto the fun step, cutting, or as they call it in Guizhou, ‘zai lajiao’
First, let’s weigh our chilis.
We need to know how much the chili weighs in order to decide the number of other ingredients.
Our chili is 1.8kg, which means we’d need 180g garlic and 180g ginger.
Peel your ginger and garlic, roughly chop into chunks, and set aside.
Next, the chilis.
First, we’ll cut the chilis into about 1-inch sections, and then toss those into a blender.
Then pulse into about half centimeter bits, but don’t be too ambitious with the pulsing we want small bits, not a paste.
Now work through your chilis, tossing in the garlic and ginger along the way, and remember to wear gloves if your chilis are very spicy.
OK finally, we’ve worked through our chilis and aromatics.
Next, we’ll need to mix in salt and liquor.
Add in 90g salt and 36g sugar onto the chili, and then 90g of baijiu liquor and combine well.
We’re actually using a nicer bottle of baijiu here, but feel free to use a cheap erguotou, or maybe gin if that’s all you can get.
Jar it up with this kind of cool pickling jars or any air-tight container you have.
Cover, and fill the outer ring with water to seal it, set it in a cool dry place that sunlight couldn’t get to, let time do its
thing, come back at least 15 days later.
And 15 days later, the moment of truth.
A successful batch would smell wonderful, with an awesome fragrance coming from the mix of aromatics, chili, salt, baijiu, and time.
We’d usually take out a small portion into a mason jar, put it in the fridge for easier access, and let the jar keep on fermenting.
Before we go, let’s talk a little bit about maintenance.
When making pickles and fermented sauces like this, remember to keep all your utensils free of oil and water.
If you’re using pickling jars like this, you’ll need to refill water to the ring every week when the water level is low.
Sometimes if you see dust or something’s collecting in the water, you’d want to dip it out and add back fresh water.
After a while, the ring may be a bit slimy or even growing mold – don’t panic, just toss the water, wipe the dirty part with rubbing
alcohol, then refill it with fresh water.
The same thing when the inside of the jar gets slimy or moldy, wet a paper towel with baijiu because no one wants rubbing alcohol taste in their chili sauce, right?
And just carefully clean the dirty bits off.
So right, this is how you make zaolajiao chili sauce.
It’s a simple but pretty awesome sauce,it’s one of those things that homemade beats store-bought.
Give it a try and you’ll be rewarded with a versatile sauce that goes well on so many things.
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