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source for dried facing-heaven chiles (Sichuan)

Has anyone found dried facing-heaven chiles, the red peppers used in Sichuan cooking in conjunction with Sichuan peppercorns? These facing-heaven chiles -- described in Fuchsia Dunlop's cookbook -- are more round and squat than the thin dried chiles usually used in Asian (including Sichuan) restaurants in the U.S. They are also much more fragrant though less spicy.

In the Bay Area, some 99 Ranch locations stock them, but it varies store-to-store.

Where have you found or bought these in LA or surrounding areas? Any recent sightings? Thank you.

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  1. Dave, you might check out the Hong Kong Supermarket in Monterey Park.

    Hong Kong Supermarket
    127 North Garfield Avenue
    Monterey Park, CA 91754-1756
    (626) 280-8888‎

    1. This is my post from a couple of years ago. Still where I buy them. The bags that I buy locally look like the pic in the Kitchenchick blog.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3836...

      9 Replies
      1. re: sel

        Just check Hawaii Supermarket tonight -- they had only ground dried Sichuan chilies, not whole ones. I did confirm with a staffperson that they often have the whole ones but are out of stock right now.

        Any other recent sightings? Servorg (above) -- have you seen these recently at Hong Kong Supermarket?

        1. re: sel

          Last time I was at Hawaii Supermarket, I found the package, same characters as the photo...and yet the peppers were not round and squat. They did not look like the "facing heaven" peppers. They looked like many other peppers. Any ideas?

          1. re: JThur01

            No ideas, all the ones I've purchased in S. Cal. Chinese markets have looked right. I'll keep an eye out and post here if I find more.

            1. re: sel

              sel, can you cite the specific place where you were most recently able to buy these chilies?

              1. re: mkaen

                168, Hawaii and Rosemead Supermarkets are where I usually shop for Chinese groceries. I haven't used up my supply yet so I haven't looked recently to see where they might be available.
                If I see them, I'll post here.

                1. re: sel

                  That would be great if you could. Thanks!

            2. re: JThur01

              I had the same problem. The ones available at SG superstore are labeled "chao tian" on the package, but do not look like the squat, wide chilies I was expecting. Instead they are longish (1.5 inches roughly) and narrow.

              1. re: JThur01

                If you look at photos online (google image search, for example), you'll see that they're not actually *that* squat, even when fresh. Just a little shorter and slightly wider at the top. I don't know for sure that these are the genuine article, but the shape doesn't look that off to me, especially if you consider that they're dried. They're similar in shape to those other dried red chilies, but I don't think they're the same.

                1. re: will47

                  ps - I don't know how accurate the text here is, but this site:
                  http://www.chillipepperpete.com/produ...
                  suggests that there are a number of varieties that are all referred to as chaotianjiao, and that the narrower, longer type is not necessarily less "authentic".

            3. I was at the Shun Fa ("SG Superstore") on San Gabriel and Valley tonight, and happened to see some. I've looked there before pretty extensively and didn't see them. So in case anyone's looking, this is one place to try. Right now, they're towards the far end of the aisle with the spices and chilis, on the left as you're facing the far end, and on the shelf closest the ground. I've attached a photo.

              This particular brand is from a company in Chengdu - chinafuchuan.com.

              Also, while most of the places that sell chaotianjiao seeds seem to be in the UK, I did find this site in Canada, which sells a hybrid based on them:
              http://www.agrohaitai.com/fruit&g...
              Not sure if it's legal to bring them in, but they will ship to the US.

               
              1 Reply
              1. re: will47

                nice, I rarely go to SG Superstore these days since I live in Arcadia and I got 2 supermarkets in close proximity.

                Too much of a hassle to deal with the parking sometimes.

              2. All of the local 99 Ranch markets have them - as well as thousands of other amazing things.

                -----
                99 Ranch
                17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kevitivity

                  Lately I can't find ANY chinese dried chilies at 99 Ranch. Is anyone else having this problem?

                  Instead, they stock a bunch of "Tampico" (aren't these mexican?) branded dried chilies.

                  If you have locations you can cite, please do!! Thanks.

                  -----
                  99 Ranch
                  17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

                2. Bumping this back up to ask about any recent sightings. Thanks.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: david kaplan

                    SG Superstore is still the most reliable source. I found some ground / powdered Chaotianjiao at HK Market on San Gabriel, but haven't tried it.

                    1. re: will47

                      Thanks. I purchased them here based on your advice. While there are surely decent Mexican substitutes (after all, chiles were introduced into China from the Americas not so long ago), dried Thai bird chiles (which seem to be most common in Chinese grocery stores) are emphatically not a suitable substitute. They are far too hot.

                      1. re: will47

                        I am wondering if anyone's tried the Wel-Pac brand dried chiles (which are just marked as 'whole red chili', and don't specific list a place of origin, other than "China"). They do, however, have a recipe for gongbao ji ding on the back, and the peppers look similar to the medium-wide-base ones that I posted a picture of above. They also sell crushed chiles in similar packaging.

                        The new 168 location on Las Tunas carries them if anyone wants to try. SG Superstore still has the ones pictured above in stock.

                        1. re: will47

                          Tipped off by this thread:
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8522...

                          I noticed Fish Well brand dried chilis at HK market (the ground chaotianjiao are not to be found). $0.99 / 100g bag. While they don't say 'chaotianjiao' specifically, and while one bag seemed to have the smaller variety, the manufacturer is based in Chongqing, and the peppers look quite a bit like the bullet shaped style favored by Fuchsia Dunlop.

                          The bad news is that some appeared to be a bit on the faded side (that particular HK market tends to keep merchandise around for a while), and I found mold inside one of the chilis. I made some chili oil with it, and it was pretty spicy - about the same level of heat as the narrower style ones (Fu Chuan brand).

                          I think Tak Shing Hong also carries the Fish Well brand - I'll try to verify sometime next week.

                          1. re: will47

                            I was at SG Superstore yesterday and saw only the Tianjin chiles (the ones that look like Thai chiles). I even had a native Sichuanese customer who tried to help me find them with no luck.

                            I did find a bag of them at Hawaii Supermarket. Bonus: they were not expired!

                            Mr Taster

                            1. re: Mr Taster

                              The expired Fishwells were at HK, not at SG Superstore (different brand, too).

                              Haven't looked at SG Superstore in the last few months, but I usually stock up when they're around, because the stock does seem to come and go. As pictured above, though, the ones at SG Superstore are labeled as chaotianjiao, but are not the super short / wide style.

                              1. re: will47

                                They're there -- Forshun brand, same ones as before. Towards the back of Aisle 19A, bottom row, with all the other dried chilis. The packages were turned around, so might have been hard to see. See attached picture.

                                 
                                1. re: will47

                                  Once again, thanks so much for the reconnaissance work. This is incredibly helpful.

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: will47

                                    Visited this morning and I saw the ones you're talking about. They were hidden behind bags of Tianjin chiles so I really had to dig for them.

                                    I saw what you meant by your description-- these do not look at all like the squat, conical Facing Heaven Chiles pictured in the book-- they really look just like the Tianjin/Thai style chiles, skinny and narrow. I really am not sure whether to believe what the packaging says.

                                    The chiles I picked up at Hawai'i are also labeled (in Chinese) as "Facing Heaven", but they look like the ones pictured in the book. When walking in the store, turn left and walk nearly all the way to the end of the store. There's a mini-aisle loaded up with chiles, and these Chao Tian Jiao are located there. Be really careful though, because although the bags are sealed and within the expiration date, some bags have inside them traces of small insects and their webbing (if you see little black dots stuck to the inside of the bag, it's likely not chile crumbs).

                                    Incidentally, I visited 168 (on Las Tunas-- great market), HK on San Gabriel and Las Tunas, SG Superstore, and finally Hawai'i, and only Hawai'i had what was labelled AND actually looked like the right chile pepper.

                                    Mr Taster

                          2. looking forward to grabbing some of these.

                            1. There are many peppers in Sichuan that all face the heavens.

                              Dunlop, in a post yesterday, tell us all not to fret over the exact variety:
                              http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/new-york...

                              FWIW, I'm growing some skinny sky-pointing peppers; though they're not squat/round, but the fire level is about the same. AFAIC, they're good enough w/o resorting to chasing them down all over SGV (even if SGV is kinda close by).