Top laoganma Introduction:By this point, most of you probably alright know what Lao Gan Ma is. But whenever
We talk about this stuff, some confusion always arises about ‘which Lao Gan Ma?’.
Because there is more than one Lao Gan Ma product, and to be honest their English translation is kind of confusing sometimes.
So to clear the air a bit, we bought every single Lao Gan Ma product. Even the hotpot bases.
So we’ll go over what each one is, talk a little bit about how it’s used in the context of Guizhou cuisine, and because Lao Gan Ma is such a classic rice killer, so we’ll also do a little taste test, and rank them on how well they go with rice.
- No.1:Fried chili oil
- No.2:Chili oil with black bean
- No.3:Spicy chili crisp
- No.4:Hot chili sauce
- No.5:Chicken chili oil
- No.6:Chili oil with pork slivers
- No.7:Fermented soybean chili
- No.8:Oil chili condiment with mushroom
- No.9:Chili oil beancurd
- No.10:Pickled chili
- No.11:Tomato chili sauce
- No.13:Zaolajiao hot pot base
- No.14:Douchi hot pot base
No.1:Fried chili oil
First things first, youlajiao. The foundation of laoganma – that is, Guizhou style chili oil.
Youlajiao chili oil is one of the cornerstone ingredients in Guizhou cooking.
This chili oil together with all its variations are very classic condiments and dipping sauces in Guizhou food you will see it used as toppings in rice noodles, such as the famous lamb rice noodle soup, or in liangban [cold] dishes such as the rice tofu that we did recently.
The core of youlajiao flavored with aromatics, then fried with deep roasted chilis and some other seasonings. It’s the kind of condiment and the ingredient that you can build from this base, and create a ton of variations.
No.2:Chili oil with black bean
And – it’s one of those variations that put Lao Gan Ma on the map: that is, fengwei douchi youlajiao, chili oil with black beans.
This is the OG Laoganma.
What you would see at convenience stores throughout China?
It’s a combination of the Youlajiao chili oil with fermented soybeans.
It’s a very common and widely used combo, most often seen in rice noodles or liangban cold dishes.
But you can also use it as a base for stir fries.
No.3:Spicy chili crisp
But of course, the version that’s most talked about on the English internet is, of course, “SPICY CHILI CRISP”, “Xianglacui youlajiao” in Chinese.
Its name contains two parts, first half “Xianglacui”, which is chili chips, it’s a kind of snack in Guizhou and you can learn more about it up here, and the second half is “Youlajiao”, which is chili oil. So in essence, this is a combination of the “Xianglacui” chili chips and the “Youlajiao” chili oil.
This seems to be the most popular Lao Gan Ma product abroad.
It got that distinctive fried chili crisps and that oniony taste.
And we find that works really well as a sub for the Sichuan shuyoulazi, ‘cooked’ chili oil.
Now, a quick confession.
A while back, we showed you guys how to make the Lao Gan Ma-style Youlajiao at home, and we called that one ‘chili crisp’ even though we were not making this “Xianglacui Youlajiao”.
But of course, the bottles we got here obviously don’t have any English on them, so apologies for the mix-up.
After introducing the big three LAOGANMA products, let’s have a taste test on rice.
Here we have some rice with a fried egg because that’s especially good with Laoganma.
And we’ll put each product in four categories, which are “very good on rice”, “less good on rice”, “why is this on rice”, and “don’t even put this on my rice”.
First up, let’s try Youlajiao chili oil.
This is very good on rice.
Next one, chili oil with black beans.
Just a little bit, I got 16 products to walk through.
This is also really good on rice. Hmm, some people might have a little bit of a problem with the slightly sour after-taste of the black beans.
But I think it’s also really great with rice.
Uh, next one, the spicy chili crisps, everyone’s favorite.
The… Personally, I think the spicy chili crisps are also it’s still good on rice.
But in comparison, it’s slightly good on rice.
So, don’t yell at me, I’m gonna put it in the “less good on rice” category. Sorry.
OK, moving on, let’s walk through the rest of the Youlajiao chili oil products.
No.4:Hot chili sauce
This is the version that we based on in our homemade LAOGANMA video.
It got three add-ins, which are peanut, firm tofu jerky, and fermented turnip.
And those are the “Sanding”, which means “three dices” in Chinese, and I believe I’ve seen some people call it “three mixes” in English, too.
It’s quite chunky and got a pretty balanced flavor. And now let’s give it a try.
OK, got it.
Alright, this one’s pretty good, especially with the fermented turnip, it got some like little pop of flavor.
So I’ll also put this in the “very good with rice” category.
No.5:Chicken chili oil
This comes from a classic variation of the “Youlajiao” chili oil in Guizhou, i.e.,
“Jilajiao”, which literally means “chicken chili”.
So it’s a combo with chili oil and chicken bits in it.
And some people even just eat it straight up as a snack, but not really recommended, because it’s a little bit too salty.
But now let’s try it on rice.
It’s a little bit difficult to do it around here.
Oh, chicken. I mean, I kinda understand, there’s chicken in it. Bones.
Uh, this one has a stronger Sichuan peppercorn flavor.
Um, it’s also pretty good.
But slightly less good than the other very good on rice.
So personally I’ll put it at the “less good on rice”, maybe “less good on rice + 1”.
So right. OK, now venturing into the new territory, stuff that I haven’t tried. Excited!
No.6:Chili oil with pork slivers
This falls in the same category as the previous one, the chicken chili.
But instead of chicken, this one has pork slivers. Now let’s give it a go.
OK, this one also got a pretty strong Sichuan pepper kick.
It’s slightly more savory than the chicken chili one, so I’ll put it above it, so it gets into the “very good on rice” category.
No.7:Fermented soybean chili
This one is also very similar to the previous one, the pork sliver one, but on top of chili oil and pork slivers, it got fermented soy bean.
So, let’s give a go.
So this one’s pretty good too, but the soy bean has more of an obvious taste and blends less good with the rice.
So I’ll put that into the “less good with rice” category.
Alright, so #8, “Jingzhi niuroumo douchi youlajiao”, so chili oil with minced beef and fermented soybeans, yes.
This is very similar to #7, but instead of pork, here it’s minced beef. And now let’s give it a go.
The beef one’s really good on rice, yes.
The beef one blends really well with rice. And because also it’s minced, so the sauce itself really blends in with rice grains.
So it’s really good rice.
I’ll put it in the first category.
No.8:Oil chili condiment with mushroom
“Xianggu Youlajiao”, seems to be a newer product that’s developed by LAOGANMA and it’s a combo with shiitake mushrooms and chili oil and fermented soybeans.
And Chris has been really enjoying this one, and let’s see how well I like it.
This one’s pretty good, especially with the shiitake mushrooms.
It’s kinda chunky and almost feels like you’re eating a stir fry.
So I’ll put it on the “very good on rice” category.
OK. That sums up the LAOGANMA chili oil universe.
Now let’s move onto the rest of the LAOGANMA products.
Here we have 5 condiments, 2 hot pot bases, and 1 pickle. Let’s go through them one by one.
So this is “Shuidouchi”, a fermented soybean soaked in water and chili.
It’s a very common type of fermented douchi, fermented soy beans in southwest.
And it’s often used as a topping for liangban dishes or a base for stir-fries.
So this is not meant to go on rice but because this is used in liangban dishes, so let’s give it a go and see how it works.
No. It’s really really salty.
It’s really salty. And I understand why it’s on liangban dishes because it really got nice umami but you really need to dilute it with other stuff.
So, yeah, don’t eat it straight on rice, no.
Next up, Furu, fermented tofu.
This is a classic to eat along with rice, but it’s also great with stir-fries and dipping sauce.
Now let’s how’s the LAOGANMA version go on rice.
Just a tiny bit.
No.9:Chili oil beancurd
Yes, this one is furu, it’s fermented tofu, of course it’s good with rice.
So “very good on rice” category.
That’s a pretty decent furu,so if you see it, you can totally buy it and use it as normal fermented tofu.
And next is Xianglajiang, spicy sauce.
This is a mix of broad bean paste and sweet bean paste.
And it seems to be a newer product that’s developed by LAOGANMA.
And it’s supposed to be in stir fries and braises.
And Chris insist that this is a better Vegemite than Vegemite and deeply believes that it’s great on toast.
So now it’s my turn to try it.
So I think it’s pretty tasty, but it’s a little bit dry somehow.
But maybe it’s the bread’s problem because we’re out of brioche bread.
So I think it’ll be pretty good if you use it on some kind of softer buttery bread.
Next we’re entering the fermented chili category.
This is Zaolajiao, fermented chili sauce and in English, it’s called “pickled chili”.
This is the classic Guizhou sour fermented chili and is the base for the Guizhou Zaola fermented sour chili flavor profile.
It’s not supposed to eat directly on rice, you should use it in dishes, like stir-fries or braises.
But let’s just give it a go anyway.
OK, so you’re not supposed to eat this on rice.
But is it a good Zaolajiao? I’ll say it’s a pretty decent one that like if you’re not making yourself then this would be a pretty decent product.
No.11:Tomato chili sauce
The next fermented chili sauce, is the fermented tomato chili garlic sauce from Guizhou.
It’s a very classic condiment and you can see it in the Anshun guojuan, the small rice noodle rolls. And it’s also a classic liangban topping.
Now let’s give it a try on rice.
This one’s quite spicy. But it’s also surprisingly pretty decent with rice.
But it’s a great condiment and I think people can get it outside of China.
If you see it, just get it, try it.
It’s quite good, and it’s good on many things.
Finally, the one pickle we have. Xianglacai, spicy vegetables.
This is spicy fermented mustard green.
You can eat it as it is or put it on rice.
Now let’s give it a try.
OK, this one is pretty decent.
It’s pretty good with rice.
It’s not too spicy, and strangely reminds me a little bit of the Yunnan Suanyancai, which is quite interesting.
You can give it a try if you see it.
Finally, our two hot pot bases, which we’re not gonna put on rice directly.
No.13:Zaolajiao hot pot base
This is the Zaolajiao hot pot base, which is for the spicy and sour hotpot in Guizhou, Suanlatang.
That’s very popular and we love it so much. So we’re just so happy that LAOGANMA has it.
No.14:Douchi hot pot base
And then the other one is Douchi hot pot base.
This is usually fry with minced pork and then you add water or stock to make a hotpot base.
At the end of the meal, you ladle some of that spicy broth onto some white rice and cornmeal rice, it’s just pure awesomeness.
So this actually falls into the “very good on rice” category but not directly.
So right, this is a comprehensive look into the LAOGANMA universe.
We hope this clear the air a bit for you.
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