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Jun 29, 2012 02:08 PM

Authentic Sichuan Chinese Ingredients

As of June 2012, A domestic mail order source for Juan Cheng brand Pixian Doubanjiang broadbean and chili paste (the "Holy Grail" of authentic Sichuan cooking) is : located in Boston, MA

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  1. That is a great one. Make sure to chop the paste very finely before using which seems to release more flavour.

    1. I discovered them a few weeks ago and ordered a couple different kinds of doubanjiang, including the one pictured. Quick delivery. I would order from them again.

      1. I don't see any 'facing-heaven chiles' there.

        2 Replies
        1. re: arktos

          Only 2 of posharpstore's dried chilis come from Sichuan - the "Fishwell" and the "Yidayuan" brands. The former are uniquely rounded, with a round point; I've used them satisfactorily for years. The Yidayuan chilis are lanceolate but somewhat wider than most Chinese dried chilis, and the tips of some specimens do curl a bit. Because of that - and because the Yidayuan package illustration shows strings of fresh chilis with up-turned points - the Yidayuan chilis may be the "facing-heaven" ones that Dunlop mentions. Anyway, I've e-mailed her for clarification on what a dried "looking heavenward" chili looks like and will post her answer, if any.

          I may switch to Yidayuan because I like the flavor and - more important - because they're vacuum-packed and so are fresher than your run-of-the-mill dried chili.

          1. re: arktos

            Oops! I just checked Wikipedia, which shows a picture of dried "facing heaven" chilies that's a dead ringer for the "Fishwell" brand chilis at posharpstore (and some retailers). Guess I'll keep using those and start using - for some dishes - the hotter but vacuum-packed Yidayuan-brand chiles from Sichuan. Evidently, "facing heaven" chilis are more typical of Chongqing, and the Yidayuan-type chilis more typical of Chengdu.

          2. The above is nothing but Spam. They don't have ANYTHING on their site except for some teas, Asian candies, & other assorted junk. "The "Holy Grail" of authentic Sixhuan cooking"??? I think NOT. They don't even carry Szechuan Peppercorns. And no Chili-Garlic Paste/Sauce. Didn't see any preserved salted black beans. Heck - they don't even have ANY of the basic things that I can find at any local supermarket.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Bacardi1

              I did a search on the site for the word "chili" and I didn't find the product the OP mentions. But when I did a search for the word "Pixian" I found it—so I think maybe the site's search feature just isn't that good.

              1. re: Bacardi1

                What they DO have is authentic Pixiang chili paste and hence the post...Sorry you had such a hard time navigating.

                1. re: eatahorse

                  Thanks! I searched under all sorts of things & got nothing. I also realize that I misunderstood your post as claiming that that website was the "Holy Grail" of ALL Sichuan ingredients - so my bad, not yours, & I apologize.

                2. re: Bacardi1

                  On site, search "Sichuan", and first page of results shows several different brands of Sichuan peppercorns (prickly ash).

                  Search "chili garlic" and you'll find a Vietnamese brand sauce and a Chinese one.

                  But I, too, can't find "preserved salted" - i.e., fermented - black beans there (maybe because they're so widely available at retail).

                  1. re: Bacardi1

                    BTW, if one accepts Dunlop as THE English-writing authority on Sichuanese cuisine, then one must accept that "Chili-Garlic Paste/Sauce" is unknown in Sichuan.

                    Nonetheless, I like the stuff as a relish. My favorite is Lee Kum Kee's "Guilin Chili Sauce," which contains fermented soybean paste as well as salted and dried chilis and dried garlic and (fresh?) shallots, among other ingredients.

                  2. is a great mail-order source for Sichuanese ingredients (owner Chris Wren is himself Sichuanese and quite responsive to inquiries). But the website itself has certain issues - mainly, not listing ingredients for each product - that I hope Chris will fix over time. I also hope that he will list the producer's address, where possible.

                    Juan Cheng Pixian doubanjiang has been my go-to for several years, but I'm planning a taste-off against a few other pastes which Chris offers and that are made in or near Pixian County and will report my impressions.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: SichuanFan

                      This Juan Cheng brand the OP mentioned is the best doubanjiang I have tried so far(got it at 99 Ranch Market- San Diego). Especially with beef.

                      There is a Youtube video from the terrific BBC show Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure, with Ken Hom and Ching-He Huang. The title of the video is "Yuan Cheng Pixian Chili Bean Paste". It shows how they make it.