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Feb 29, 2008 10:49 PM

DUNLOP March Cookbook of Month: Preserves & Stocks

Land of Plenty has a chapter named: Stocks and Soups and one for Hot Pots. Revolutionary Chinese has Preserves and Stocks. All those posts go here, from salted chilis to chicken stock.

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  1. Salted Chiles

    This is not the time of year for the farmer's market, but I really did want to try something besides sambal oelek when using a few of these recipes. So, I went to the only place that would have fresh red chiles (but unfortunately not the "very" fresh which she specified). I happily acquired 49 cents worth of red jalapeños and chopped them up. I noticed as I did so that there is a reason she has you chop the bottoms off as well as the stems. On one specimen, you could see a very small mark at the bottom tip. It must be that with age this develops right at that small indentation there. Perhaps it can become moldy there?

    Then, I added my salt. Here is where I made a wrong assumption. I used Kosher salt because I always use Kosher salt for brining or preserving or draining type operations, like, say for cabbage. But she does not specify this, so fifteen minutes later I realized what I had done and went back and added the appropriate amount of salt, so it would be salty enough. Interestingly enough, the size of my chiles has already shrunk by a fair amount. The liquid forms very quickly. These may be very salty indeed.

    She says to store it in a cool spot. Does this mean not the refrigerator, at least until the two weeks are up? I couldn't decide. So for right now, it is in the fridge. If anyone has input on that, let me know.

    Oh, as you can tell by the price, I made a half batch, and used a suitably smaller container with that. I felt that they would not keep as long, given that they were only fresh and not very fresh.

    I must say I found this easy and cheap. Well, the part that wasn't easy was getting *red* jalapeños. I can't wait to see how this tastes, given that it hasn't a whiff of vinegar in it. I suppose the only other drawback is having yet another oddity in my tiny fridge. I already have trouble telling my concoctions apart and tend to stuff my vegetables on top of my condiments or in any old nook...I managed to stuff the chiles into that spot where people keep butter and the like, the enclosed spot at the top of the door. I'll have to pry it back out in two weeks.

    26 Replies
    1. re: saltwater

      saltwater, I'm so excited you tried this--I hope to, soon, but am not going to have time probably for another several days. I'm afraid I can't answer your storage question, but here's a thread on Dunlop's salted chiles that, perhaps, might? I quess we'll have to wait for another 2 weeks for the results...


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I'm going to make them today - still trying to figure out "which" red chilis to get! About to go peruse some other threads.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Here’s a blog post by someone who made it with cayenne peppers:

          And here’s another blog that also seems to be using cayennes.

          When I was in Chinatown last week the only fresh chiles I could find seemed to be the Thai chiles, which Dunlop says are way too hot. Maybe it’s the wrong time of year?

          Anyway, I think I’ve decided to go with cayennes. At least they shouldn’t be too difficult to find. I’ll be eager to hear what peppers you decide to use.

          ETA: Oops. I see I forgot to post the second link:

          1. re: JoanN

            Thanks - I'm heading down to Chinatown this morning!

            1. re: JoanN

              I have an RSS feed for theTigers and Strawberries blog abd find her instructions spot on. The next time we go to the market I intend to get the cayennes and make the salted chilis too. Since I have a rather large wal-in pantry which is uninsulated thus more like a buttery, that's where I'll be able to store the jar. And to think I used to start the seeds for cayenne chilis to grow in my garden.....

              She recommends using surgical gloves and a mask to keep the contact with capsicum oil and breathing of fumes at a minimum.

              1. re: Gio

                I have disposable surgical gloves but have been rather lax about using them. This morning I noticed that some of my fingtips were swollen and I had some itchy bumps on the side of my pinky finger. It took me a while to figure out I had contact demeratitis from the capsicum in the chiles. I don't know whether or not this is common, but I'm definitely going to be careful about using the gloves from now on. Good advice. Now, I just have to remember to follow it. ;-)

                1. re: JoanN

                  I am still chililess!! I'm going to have to track down some cayennes - as did JoanN did - I only saw the Thai chilis in Chinatown. Productive trip otherwise though and I know own a wok and some accoutrements!

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    No, afraid JoanN wasn't able to track down any cayenne peppers. Just came back from six (six!) markets and all I found were jalapenos and habaneros. I wonder if they're seasonal--or just unpopular. Back to the sambal oelek in the meantime.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      I seem to remember reading that red (ripe) jalepenos were used as a substitute, but forgot who wrote it. I have so many food blog feeds, I'm now in information overload.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Unfortunately, I was only finding green ones.

                        Isn't this all fun! I think I've gotten more exercise searching for ingredients this past week than I have on my treadmill. My mother lives near a gigantic Asian market in central New Jersey. It may be time to go give Mom a visit.

                        1. re: JoanN

                          I can see it now:
                          JoanN, famous Chouhound home cook and supplier of fresh cayenne chilis to the community. In neon. Red and yellow, I think.

            2. re: MMRuth

              As discussed here and elsewhere in the COTM thread, there has been a pretty good discussion and recipe for the salted chilis here on Chowhound. Called "The Universal Condiment".

              I made my salted chilis right after I read the thread, since it inspired me so! I bought a bunch of different kinds of red chilis - Thai, and others whose names I can't remember. The condiment is wonderful.

              You should taste your chilis before making this condiment, since jalapenos can be totally bland and tasteless around this time of the year.

              Re chili suppliers: I had the immediate vision of a dark alley with a guy in a trench coat....."Psst! Lady! Wanna buy some chilis?"

            3. re: The Dairy Queen

              Thanks for the link TDQ. I see someone had their chiles go moldy and they surmise it could have been the same problem I had...accidentally using Kosher salt. Good thing I fixed it.

            4. re: saltwater

              I made the salted chilies weeks ago, using tiny red peppers I found in Chinatown. No need to put them into the fridge until after the 3rd week. Just keep them in a cool dark place until then. I divided her recipe into two glass jars. Not all of the salt dissolves. I found at the end of the 3rd week I just mixed them up and put one of the jars in the freezer with some plastic wrap on top of the mixture to help keep the air away. It is salty but you don't need a lot. I've used it in her Steamed Chicken with Salted Chilies and a very tasty Spicy Coriander Salad that is already a big hit around here.

              1. re: scoopG

                Do you think you used bird chilis (just don't remember ;-) ). Thanks.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  They were all that I could get - these tiny red ones. Not sure what they are called! But it worked for me...actually better in a way as they were not too large when cut up.

                  Also - I would not worry about the colorization problem on your wok there. I have one of these cheaper models from Chinatown i.e. the $15 model, not the $5 version and it is certainly not cast iron. I even use brillo pads on it if needed and I may be slammed by some purists now for that!

              2. re: saltwater

                I finally made the salted chilis too, better late than never. They take two weeks, so I should have time to try a couple of recipes using this ingredient before the end of the month. The only fresh red chilis the Asian market had were nice-looking packaged red jalapenos, so like saltwater that's what I used. I did taste one, and they were nice and spicy. I used sea salt (coarse Pacific sea salt from Penzey's).

                Recipe link:


                1. re: Rubee

                  I used green peppers along with the red ones. Merrrrrrry Christmas! I'm now going to order from Penzey's! Better late than never.

                2. re: saltwater

                  Success! They are bright red, intensely salty, with a sour note, and a strong chile or fruity flavor. They are hot, but not as hot as sambal oelek teaspoon for teaspoon. Perhaps that is because they are coarsely chopped and not crushed up, or more likely, because they are jalapeños. I tried them in a recipe that I had already made with the sambal oelek, and I felt that I will need to try again using more salted chiles next time, perhaps one and a half the volume. I chopped them a bit finer for the dish after I measured them, because I was worried that the flavor would not distribute as well as it had with the sambal. I was correct that it was less well distributed, even though I had given them a few extra chops. It was a noodle dish, and the pieces sort of accumulated on the bottom of the pile. The bottom of the dish was better than the first few bites of the dish. This could be a function of the dish, though. In this dish I sautéed the noodles in plain oil first, removed them, and then did the rest of the ingredients, so the chile flavor did not have a chance to flavor the substantial amount of oil that penetrated the noodles.

                  I think at least on the bottom of the dish it added more flavor than the sambal oelek did. Less heat, and decidedly richer flavor. These could clearly be used in a variety of situations, so long as the extra salt can fit into the dish. I bet they would be very nice with fish.

                  Oh, I ended up pulling them out of the fridge and storing them in a cooler place (root cellar-like, maybe 53 degrees F) for the two week fermentation. Now they are in the fridge.

                  1. re: saltwater

                    Fantastic! Thank you for updating us!


                  2. re: saltwater

                    Salted chilies (RCC, pg. 283)

                    I can see why this is the universal condiment. I used thai chiles (the ones that are about 2 inches long) and these became incredibly fragrant. I didn’t read the recipe as closely as I should so I didn’t cut off the ends. I saw no ill effect from this.

                    1. re: beetlebug

                      Fantastic! Thank you for reporting back!


                      1. re: beetlebug

                        I was late making mine and they're just now ready. You and saltwater have me really eager to try them. I used Thai chiles as well. Did you also find them somewhat less hot than whatever you'd been using as a substitute? They sure look fiery in the jar!

                        1. re: JoanN

                          I just started looking at RCC so haven't used any substitute (sambol oelek) in place of the salted chiles. They are a little fiery but oddly enough, not as salty as I thought they would be. I suspect it would be spicier than the sambol oelek. I did put a little of these on my dumplings and it went great with the dipping sauce.

                          1. re: beetlebug

                            Ah. Good to know about the dipping sauce since I still have some dumplings left in the freezer. That'll be a quick and easy way to try it out. Thanks.

                            1. re: beetlebug

                              Good idea! My salted chilis are ready and sitting in the refrigerator, but then I realized that the recipes using them are in the RCC book. I'll have to try to find some recipes on-line, but until then I'll use your great idea of eating them with dumplings - I made the cabbage and pork dumplings this weekend (report to follow) and have a few more left in the freezer.

                      2. A couple of items for the pantry:

                        Everyday Stock - Xian Tang (Land of Plenty, p. 318).

                        She suggest two pounds of pork bones and one pound of chicken wings/backs, etc. I wanted to make a big batch so doubled the ingredients. At the Asian market I picked up 3 lbs of pork bones and then a package of cut-up leg quarters since they were cheaper than chicken wings. The smallest package was around 3 lbs, so I ended up using equal amounts of each. Simmered all this for about three and a half hours with water to cover, smashed ginger, and scallions.

                        Ground Roasted Sichuan Pepper - Hua Jiao Mian (LOP, p. 74)

                        Whole Sichuan peppercorns (I used Penzey's) are toasted in a pan/wok and then cooled, ground (I used a coffee/spice grinder) and sifted.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Rubee

                          I made the Everyday Stock a few days ago with a pound of pork neck bones and 2 pounds of chicken necks and backs and it's a completely different color from yours. Mine looks more like dirty dishwater than your lovely pale yellow. It tastes fine, and seems to be working well in recipes; I'm just surprised at how different it looks.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            I wonder, perhaps your stock became cloudy, which is what "dishwater" conjures for me. I've had trouble, especially with pork, obtaining a very clear stock. Pork really seems to throw off blood and proteins that coagulate in the pot. It helps to never stir the pot, ever, to skim the pot well at the start, and to only simmer, not boil the liquid during the long cooking. Simmer means like a few tiny bubbles raising up, but the surface of the liquid is just sitting there, calm. Also, if you aren't straining the stock, when you decant the liquid, leave the bottom cruddy few tablespoons in the pot, if you have any, and try not to overly disturb the bones as you decant. Any of these ideas could help some if it was cloudy.

                            Pork stock is delicious!

                            1. re: JoanN

                              Korean and Chinese cooking have quite a few similarities (as well as some huge differences). When using any bloody meat/bones, we usually either soak in cold water for a couple of hours, or par boil the bones and discard the first boil liquid.
                              This results in a clearer broth/stock.
                              Quite a few Chinese cooks that I have known do the same.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                That's interesting JoanN. I agree - I was pleasantly suprised by how golden it got, especially with simmering pork bones (which BTW don't smell half as nice as stock made from just chicken). I did rinse the pork bones twice in very hot tap water (tossed under running hot water in a strainer, blotted, tossed and rinsed again). I don't remember where or how I learned that, but maybe that made a difference; and it sounds similar to the techniques hannaone and saltwater mention above. It was also the first time using cut-up leg quarters from the Asian market. Not thighs/drumsticks but leq quarters cut up in about 2-inch pieces.

                                1. re: Rubee

                                  Something that helps with the smell is to add a few slices of ginger to the pot. The few slices isn't enough to really affect the flavor, but it does wonders with the odor/aroma. Discard the ginger when you strain or transfer your stock.

                                  1. re: hannaone

                                    I made an invented soup tonight using fresh noodles left over from my noodle dish a couple of nights ago.

                                    The base was her savory stock.. Adding unpeeled ginger, bay leaf, a tiny bit of 5 Spice Powder (I am THOROUGHLY SICK of star anise flavor which many of our local Vietnamese restaurants overdo), cassia bark, etc.

                                    I had some leftover COSTCO roasted chicken and chopped that up. Also had some braising greens from my CSA box. Added both of those. Dollop of sesame oil, teaspoon of black bean/chile sauce. Very good indeed. It even seemed restorative, but that was probably all in my mind.

                                    That broth/stock is outstanding. No photo because it didn't look that great.

                            2. Pickled Chili Paste (LOP, p. 56, 376)

                              Dunlop says that "The Sichuanese simply pound their pickled chiles to a paste, without adding garlic or any other flavorings". I pureed them in a food processor. I used Thai pickled chiles which were about 2 inches long (not the tiny inch-long ones she says to avoid), and looked similar to the picture on p 129. The main ingredients were chilis, water, and salt. Just to be sure, I tasted and compared the heat level of the puree with some sambal oelek, and the level was similar.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Rubee

                                Oh I'm so glad you posted the picture of the jar, Rubee. DH brought home green pickled chilis yesterday. I forgot to tell him to get the red jar. Now he can see what it looks like!!! And, the food processor tip it a good one.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  Just don't breathe in deeply when you take the lid off the food processor! ; )

                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    Don't inhale any steam from hot water while rinsing /washing your equipment either.

                                    1. re: hannaone

                                      Once again - good to know tips from the pros!

                                      I did know that. Learned the hard way a few years ago. Thank goodness DH learned from my mistake. I read somewhere that it's a good idea to wear surgical gloves and a face mask. But I have not done that yet.

                              2. Sweet, Aromatic Soy Sauce (fu zhi jiang you) - LOP, p. 76

                                Dunlop calls this a "little culinary secret" that is used in certain Sichuanese sauces, and I agree. She says it keeps indefinitely, and I'll be keeping a batch of this slightly sweet, spiced soy sauce in the refrigerator from now on. I simmered soy sauce, water, brown sugar, ginger and spices - cassia bark, fennel seeds, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns (all from Penzey's). After 20 minutes this is strained. I had made it earlier as an ingredient for the dipping sauce for the Zhong Crescent Dumplings (p. 100) for dinner, but it was good as is too - I ended up drizzling it over some left-over roasted chicken and salad greens for lunch. Good stuff, and now it's going to be one of my "culinary secrets" too.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Rubee

                                  Sweet aromatic Soy Sauce (pg. 76)

                                  Not much to add to Rubee’s report but I can see why this would be a staple. So much more complex than regular soy sauce and it just adds an extra oomph to dishes.

                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    I don't have access to my copy of LOP these days; would someone be so kind as to paraphrase the recipe for the Sweet, Aromatic Soy Sauce for me? It sounds like a staple I'd like to have on hand, too!

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      Here you go!

                                      1/3 cup dark soy
                                      2/3 cup water
                                      6 Tb brown sugar
                                      1/3 of a cinnamon stick or a piece of cassia bark
                                      1/2 tsp fennel seeds
                                      1/2 of a star anise
                                      1/2 tsp Sichuan pepper
                                      1 small piece of crushed, unpeeled ginger

                                      Bring all ingredients to a boil in a pot, stirring to dissolve sugar. Turn heat down and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and cool.

                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        Thanks so much, Rubee! I look forward to trying it out.

                                  2. Chili Oil - hong yu (LOP, p. 55)

                                    I've been using Lian How chili oil - soy bean oil and chili - but finally got around to making my own. Basically, peanut oil is heated (I added the optional crushed ginger), and then poured over chili flakes (I added the option of one star anise). If using whole chiles, she says to "fry them with the seeds in hot oil until crisp", and then crush in a mortar or food processor. After I did this, I had a bit less than the half-cup the recipe calls for, so threw another handful of chilis into the processor without frying. The oil is heated with the ginger, then allowed to cool to 225-250. She suggests using a thermometer, which I did. I poured this over the crushed chilis in a glass jar, stirred, and let it cool. She says that the chili flakes will settle to the bottom. Most did, but some floated to the top. I think it was the chilis I didn't fry, so next time I won't skip this step. I'm looking forward to using this homemade chili oil in future recipes!

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Rubee


                                      Thanks for the report. I'm going to try this reasonably soon, as I only have 2T of chili oil left. Did the anise add anything, do you think? Also, do you know why she has you heat and then cool the oil, instead of just heating it up to the right temp?

                                      1. re: saltwater

                                        I just tried it, and didn't really notice the star anise. OTOH, I took a breath in when I opened the jar and was coughing ; )

                                        Good question re: heating the oil. I'm not sure. Maybe it's so that the crushed ginger will infuse the oil at the higher heat? However, I have to say that I didn't really notice the ginger either; though probably should have used a bigger piece.

                                        1. re: Rubee

                                          Thanks, Rubee. I didn't mean to send you on such a mission of danger, breathing in those chili fumes. :)

                                          1. re: saltwater

                                            Ha, you'd think I would have learned by now!

                                      2. re: Rubee

                                        Yes, thanks for the report. We are way low on chili oil and with two serious chilihead pups in the house, thats not a good place to be. I think I will try this out on the weekend but thanks to your warning, I will do it when my spouse is out of the house--he can't deal with chili fumes At All.