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I Have Discovered the Universal Condiment

Reading Fuchsia Dunlop's THE REVOLUTIONARY CHINESE COOKBOOK, I noticed how many recipes included what she calls "Hunanese Chopped Salted Chilies," so I decided to make some. To my surprise, the stuff has turned out to be fantastically versatile, useful with a much wider range of foods than I'd expected. The reason is that it's more or less ethnically neutral, meaning it contains no ingredient that specifically tilts its taste toward a particular cuisine. And yet it's full of flavor and great color. In addition to Dunlop's prescribed uses, so far I've flavored mayo with it, made a zingy rice pilaf, and even added a few spoonfuls to a batch of kielbasa I was stuffing that had struck me as bland. Here's the recipe, which couldn't be simpler:

1. Wash 1 lb. very fresh red chiles [I used Fresnos, since that's what I could get my hands on] and dry thoroughly. Cut off their stems and bottoms, and chop coarsely with the seeds. Place the chopped chilies in a bowl.

2. Add 3.5 tablespoons of the salt to the chiles and mix thoroughly. Place in a glass jar and cover with the remaining salt. Seal with a tight-fitting lid. Leave in a cool place for a couple of weeks before using [I just stuck them in the fridge], then store in the refrigerator once opened. The chilies will keep in the refrigerator for months.

No fridge should be without a jar.
And thanks, Ms. Dunlop.

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  1. I'll be buying a pound of red chiles at the market Saturday, and making a batch. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I wonder about a garlic-enhanced version? Use either raw or sauteed garlic, dump in a handful of cloves to the jar and percolate as normal.

      3 Replies
      1. re: KenWritez

        This sounds more like Sriracha, which I can attest tastes good on just about anything that can take a little heat.

        1. re: chanterelle

          Agreed that this sounds like Sriracha, which is THE universal condiment

          1. re: kalidaemon

            It doesn't taste like sriracha, it's just chiles and salt. No vinegar or sugar, which were both in the sriracha recipe I just googled. Also I think mine turned out the better for being made with a mix of different kinds of chiles, red and green.

      2. How much salt was used total? It just says to cover with remaining salt. It does sound good..

        3 Replies
        1. re: King of Northern Blvd

          OUCH!! Nothing like leaving out the most important info.
          The total salt is 1/4 (that's one-quarter) cup.
          Sorry about that--very sloppy of me.

          1. re: Barry Foy

            When you use this, do you dig into the bottom of the jar for just the chiles, or do you use the salt on top too?

            1. re: JasmineG

              Hey JasmineG,

              When the couple of weeks' curing is finished, you stir it all together.

        2. Agree with their oddly catholic uses, considering their origin. This is a great book (both her books are).
          www.littlecomptonmornings.blogspot.com

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