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Jan 29, 2014 08:51 AM

Best available hot bean paste/hot chili paste for Sichuan cooking? [moved from Boston board]

Dear cooks!
What is your favorite brand of hot chili paste (lajiao jiang) and/or hot bean paste (ladouban jiang) to use when you cook Sichuan food at home? (Note: I gently & humbly ask that you not reply simply to urge me to make the paste from scratch, or to harangue me for buying a bottled paste... if you insist that only homemade stuff will suffice, at least leave your favorite recipe for us!)

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  1. Whole foods has a brand that is pretty good (I am sorry I don't have the name of it right now, I am at work), the hot paste is pretty damn hot, I'll post the brand when I get home tonight though (or if I find it via my intense google-fu)

    3 Replies
    1. re: devilham

      I like the Lee Kum Kee and the Koon Chun that come in jars ok, but I really prefer the canned paste I found at the chinese grocery in Chelmsford

      1. re: justbeingpolite

        +1. A Chinese colleague introduced me to it years ago, and it's always in my pantry now. And such a deal! I buy it at C Mart.

      2. re: devilham

        Here is a picture of the brand, it's chinese characters, so it looks like I wouldn't be able to tell you the name anyways! But it's quite good.

      3. For Chili Paste I usally use the Rooster brand Sambal Oelek

        4 Replies
        1. re: justbeingpolite

          Sambal Oelek is much different from the Sichuan paste that the OP is looking for, which is a thick combination of soy bean or broad beans, with cooked chilis in it...I have found good ones at the Sunrise Market on Oxford St. downtown...The broad beans (favas) are supposed to be superior, according to Fuschia Dunlop, and that was the only place I could find them...(hope they're still there!)

            1. re: justbeingpolite

              Yeah, sorry, my reply needed a little editing!

              1. re: galleygirl

                that was my second reply, as the OP asked about both hot bean paste and hot chili paste.

        2. Timely thread. I bought a jar of a Taiwanese 'super hot' hot bean paste for my mapo tofu recipe. Loved it - but darned if I can find it in the market now. I've checked C-Mart (the original store) and other markets and zero luck. I didn't save the jar unfortunately, and I can't remember the official brand.

          EDIT: I think it was this brand - lao luo zi (little donkey). What I liked about it was that it had whole beans and chunks of the chili peppers. It was indeed super hot, but very tasty.

          6 Replies
            1. re: justbeingpolite

              I think it's definitely the brand I linked to above (though not with the black beans as that picture was). I see the brand you showed a lot in markets. Have you tried it - any good?

              1. re: justbeingpolite

                That is Lao Gan Ma chili sauce. They don't have as many varieties of hot chili paste as Lao Luo Zi, but what they do have is fantastic. My favorite is the chili crisp Lao Gan Ma. It has a very complex flavor so the heat (which is considerable) is backed up with a kick of sweetness and something savory. I know there are Sichuan peppercorns, perhaps some crunchy fried onions, but the rest of the ingredients are a delicious mystery.

              2. re: kobuta

                I LOVE chili bean paste myself, but have found over the years that the brands available in local Chinese supermarkets are ever-changing. Just when I decide a certain brand is my fav, I can never find it again. Heck, for a while I couldn't find it at the former Super88 at all.

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  Yes, at HKM, you'll take the brand they have and like it, and if you're smart you'll buy two because they may not have any the next time you need it.

              3. I can't read Chinese, so I don't know what brand of douban jiang this is, but I like it a lot.

                2 Replies
                1. re: MikeG

                  It's too late to edit my first post, but I did a little digging on my hard drive and came up with the brand name which I'd found with the help of google translate. Turns out to be Juan Chen brand / 鹃城牌 . If it's not clear from the photo, it comes in a flat mylar pouch, not a jar.

                  1. re: MikeG

                    i bought this version when I was in LA. I think it was at a Ranch 33 supermarket. Thanks to Mr. Taster for pointing it out to me. I haven't seen it yet in my area of Washington,DC, but I haven't looked hard.

                    Very spicy concentrated bean paste. Excellent.

                    On the bottom it says "Sichuan Pixiandouban Co., Ltd."

                  2. I'm delighted for all of these suggestions-- thanks, everybody!! (And do keep them coming if there may be more, or if you try any new ones!) I've tried only one of the brands suggested so far in this thread before, and all the others will be new to me; I'm planning to get one bottle/package of each and doing a fun taste-test in the weeks to come. I'll report back...!