The Mala Project | Cooking Sichuan in America Blog

Mala Dry Pot With Cauliflower, Snap Peas and Bacon (Gan Guo Caihua)

Weeknight Dry Pot~~ I’m not sure y’all believed me the first time I shared a recipe for dry pot (gan guo or mala xiang guo), back in September 2015. Perhaps I did not convey how delicious it truly is. Or perhaps it seemed like too much effort. Or perhaps you’d just never heard of it—which is highly possible if you live outside China, where it’s been trendy for years. But dry pot is making its play in the U.S., moving out of the San Gabriel Valley to other places on...

Inspired by Houston’s Mala Sichuan Bistro: Mala Beef Jerky (Mala Niu Rou Gan)

Award-Winning Sichuan~~ A few days ago, Jianyun Ye, the chef at one of my favorite Sichuan restaurants, Houston’s Mala Sichuan Bistro, was nominated for a James Beard Award as Best Chef Southwest. Two other Chinese chefs working in authentic Sichuan restaurants owned by Mainland Chinese restaurateurs also got regional Best Chef nods for 2017: Ri Liu at Atlanta’s Masterpiece (which we visit frequently) and Wei Zhu of Chengdu Gourmet in Pittsburgh. Check out those locations. Not NYC, SF or LA, but Houston, Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Dare I believe that all...

Introducing Chengdu Zajiang Noodles (Zajiang Mian)

Just Don’t Call It Zhajiang Mian~~ As we learned in the recent guest post from Chengdu Food Tours’s Jordan Porter, zajiang mian is one of Chengdu’s most popular noodles, a bigger, heartier cousin of dan dan noodles and more-loved than its little cousin in modern Chengdu. I promised at the time to work on the recipe, and here are the results. But first, I want to share my closer-to-home inspiration: the zajiang mian at Mian, a real-deal Sichuan/Chongqing noodle shop in L.A.’s San Gabriel Valley. Opened by Tony Xu, chef-owner of the...

Chengdu Noodles: Above and Beyond Dan Dan Mian | Jordan Porter

The Straight-up, Lo-down on the Infinite Varieties~~ The Mala Project’s first-ever guest post is by Jordan Porter, owner and chief experience officer at Chengdu Food Tours. A Canadian who has lived in Chengdu since 2010, he began his culinary tour company in 2015 and has since led tours of the streets of Chengdu and the countryside of Sichuan for travelers like you and me and for food VIPs (many of whose articles you probably read, after Jordan schooled them in Sichuan cuisine). As many of you know, I also began my...

Huang’s Words and Tian Mian Jiang Pork (Jiang Rou Si)

On Immigrants and Chinese Food: ‘No Coupons’~~ The National Immigrant Integration Conference came to Nashville this past weekend, and one of my favorite immigrant writers showed up to give the opening talk. The one and only Eddie Huang—Taiwanese-Chinese American chef, author and provocateur  of Fresh Off the Boat and Huang’s World fame—was in fine form (and even wore a suit!), giving a speech he wrote called “No Coupons.” I dragged my little Chinese immigrant along with me, hoping she would take to heart what he had to say.  He talked about...

Announcing The Mala Project SHOP: Sichuan Specialty Products, Direct From Sichuan

Friends and Family Discount~~ Fong Chong and I are very excited to  announce that we have opened an online Mala Project SHOP [later renamed The Mala Market] full of high-quality Sichuan specialty products and ingredients sourced direct from Sichuan. When I started this blog about cooking authentic Sichuan food in America, my goal was to learn to cook for my new daughter from China and make her American life more palatable. I called my efforts the Chengdu Challenge, because I knew both the cooking and the sourcing of real Sichuan ingredients would be...

Fish in Chili Bean Sauce (Pixian Douban Yu)

Fish-Fragrant Fish~~ As you can see in the photo of fish in chili bean sauce, this long, lithe Spanish mackerel didn’t fit on my serving tray. Nor did it fit in the wok; even though I finally wrestled it into the wok, I had to be content to let its steely silver tail pop out from under the tin wok lid. But Fong Chong likes her fish “to have taste,” so we always opt for mackerel over the shorter, easier-to-handle, milder red snapper (the only two fresh whole-fish choices we can...

Sichuan Cucumber Three Ways: Hot-and-Sour, Mala and Sesame (Pai Huang Gua)

Cool as a (Spicy) Cucumber~~ Sichuan knows how to treat a cucumber: with spice! Here are three cucumber preparations, using three different forms of chili pepper, and resulting in three very different tastes. The first is hot-and-sour and similar to a Western quick pickle with the addition of pickled or fresh red chilies. The second is mala, the smacked cucumber smacking strongly of that incomparable toasty chili and tingly Sichuan pepper taste that makes mala so addictive. And the third is so flavor-packed with chili oil, sesame paste and yacai preserved vegetable that it...

Inspired by Red Cook’s Red-Cooked Pork (Hong Shao Rou)

Delicious Pork Belly and a Cookbook and Dutch Oven Giveaway~~ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve red-cooked something. I’ve red-cooked the traditional pork belly many a time and have also tried red-cooking pork shoulder, chicken thighs and beef short ribs. But I’ve never settled on a favorite red-cooking recipe or method. Perhaps because I’m not Chinese, and my mom (or other family member) did not hand one down to me. But I have to have one. Because I have to pass the family red-cooking recipe down to my Chinese daughter....

Chengdu Challenge #28: Hot-and-Sour Eggplant Salad (Suan La Liang Ban Qie Zi)

Eggplant, a Girl’s Best Friend~~ What to send to school in your daughter’s lunchbox when she’s changing high schools as a sophomore and facing a lunchtime cafeteria where she knows no one and has no one to eat with? Her favorite vegetable, of course. The vegetable that makes her feel happy as she eats it no matter what is going on around her or how alone she feels. For Fong Chong, that vegetable is eggplant. Now, I’d rather go over there and eat lunch with her in that crowded school...

Spreading the Sichuan Love: L.A.’s Chengdu Taste

Coming to a City Near You? We Ask the Owners~~ When it’s silent for too long on this end, you know it means Fong Chong and I have been traveling or, in this case, spending our summer in Northeast Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, America’s most progressive Chinese enclave. Without a kitchen while we play in the sun, hang with dear old friends, and Fong Chong goes to summer school, we use the time off from cooking Sichuan to eat other people’s Sichuan cooking and get newly inspired....

Cooking With The Godmother: Lao Gan Ma Black Bean Chicken

“Mom Recipe”~~ My blog is all about cooking “authentic” Sichuan food. But my definition of authentic doesn’t mean always using specific recipes, it just means cooking Sichuan food the way it would be cooked in Chengdu. So I do not feel guilty about this shortcut recipe for black bean chicken, since I know that people in Sichuan cook this way and would eat this in a heartbeat. People all over China—and increasingly the world—love Lao Gan Ma and cook with her often. My ode to The Godmother—China’s Best Chili Oils and...

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Do you love Sichuan food and cooking as much as we do?

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive notice of new recipes and articles from the blog as well as occasional news and promotions from The Mala Market, our Sichuan specialty food shop. (An average of two emails total per month.)

 

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Thank you!

Taylor & Fong Chong