Chilli and Chilli Sauces or Lat Zhu Zhi
| Whilst Cantonese cuisine is generally
delicate of flavour, most Chinese people love hot chilli
dishes, and sauces as table condiments. Prepared chilli
spices such as Cayenne powders are rare, as Chinese
normally cook with fresh chilli's
Chilli's are pronounced "la'ht d'zhU zhI" in Cantonese, and "ho lat" means spicy hot. "ho yee" means hot temperature. If you have difficulty remembering, or pronouncing 'chilli' in Cantonese, in a restaurant, most will understand 'ho lat'.
First let's get your mind right. Having grown my own
chilli's in UK, I was caught out by Chinese ones initially.
I was used to chilli's being green, and then turning
through many colours to red as they ripen and get hotter.
In Chinese wet markets, the green chilli's are the hot
ones, and the red ones are milder! This is because the
hot red chilli's all go to make table sauces. Occasionally
there may be exceptions to this general rule!
The main types of Chinese chilli are:
1. Sichuan Chilli - these are
a round square of an inch and a half, and are
similar to the Habanero or Scotch Bonnet chilli
genus. They are in fact Caribbean Red Hot, which
is generally regarded as being the hottest chilli
in the world, registering a massive 300,000 -
475,000 on the Scoville Scale. It is extremely
difficult to find these fresh, whilst they are
available dried everywhere. Whilst I love hot
chilli, I do not like these dried versions as
they are simply extremely hot and dry.
2. Long green or red chilli.
These are between 6 and 8 inches long by 1 inch
wide, and vary in heat a lot. The vendor should
know which are the hot ones, and which are likely
to be mild. These are the ones that are commonly
stuffed with ground pork meat - a most excellent
dish that you simply fry for a few minutes.
chilli's These resemble the excellent Bhavnagari
Long and are very common in wet markets. Most
are between 4 and 8 inches long, and normally
green or just turning. Due to the vast array of
chilli hybrids I cannot tell you their genus,
as their are probably several. Ask the vendor
for hot ones, and use as in UK.
Jalapeno chilli's are also common, and
are usually either green or yellow in wet markets
- again the red or hottest, and most mature appear
to be missing. These are the ones my Cantonese
wife uses in cooking. If you don't know, then
Jalapeno chilli's have a smooth skin and are shaped
like drops about 1 to 2 inches long. They rate
between 100, 000 and 300, 00 on the Scoville scale.
Chilli's are added to many dishes, but not in
any overpowering way normally. There are exceptions,
such as large green chilli's stuffed with ground
pork meat. Most supermarkets sell these on their
fresh produce counter, and they are excellent!
All China's red chilli's appear to go into
making some ridiculously hot chilli sauces. I
have sampled hundreds of these over my time in
China, and find many of them are simply hot and
without substance - meaning they are simply very
hot red chilli's chopped up and put into a jar.
For something a lot better, please see below:
1. Lantern Brand Pepper Sauce
(Top picture right). This is a fiery and most
excellent chilli sauce, which looks like sweetcorn
Please treat this small jar of perfect pleasure
with respect - even though it retails for around
4RMB per jar. Stunning!
Lantern Brand from Hainan Island in the very southeast
of China, also make a red version, which is equally
enthralling for any chilli lover.
2. My favourite chilli sauce
in China is called Guilam (Gui Lin in Mandarin),
and is a proper and fresh blend of chilli and
other ingredients. Hong Kong Food giant Lee Kum
Kee offer a very erstwhile version that is very
consistent, but I actually prefer a local one
if available. Being made from fresh ingredients,
this chilli sauce does not keep well = no additives,
but is fine if used within 3-months of opening
and kept in the fridge. The Lee Kum Kee version
does keep a lot better, sorry for any confusion
- it is the fresh one that does not.
3. Some dishes may benefit from
a sweeter and mild chilli and garlic sauce, and
this is the one I recommend ... well not sure
what it is called actually, so see the third picture
right. I drip this over scrambled eggs on toast,
Welsh rarebit, and similar. It is also good as
a mild chilli dip.
4. Chilli and Blackbean Sauce or Gue'm Ma is a favourite Cantonese condiment, and is available in many restaurants also. It is a blend of hot chilli, cooked blackbeans, with trace ingredients set in oil.
When first tasted you will find the pronounced natural smokiness of the blackbeans hits your palate first. This is quickly followed by fiery chilli that warrants respect. Later you will perceive a slightly fruity quality, making this
a most unusual and delicious blend - try it and see.
|This page will expand once I take my camera to the local wetmarket, and find suitable names for them all.
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably
supported by our friends and various internet portals.