Guilin is a city in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China, bordering Hunan to the north. Its name means, “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus”, owing to the large number of fragrant Sweet Osmanthus trees located in the city.
Guilin cuisine is known for its snacks and the use of spices, especially chili. Guilin chili sauce (桂林辣椒酱), is used widely in local cooking and is famed for its exceptional flavor throughout China. It is made from fresh chilis, garlic, and fermented soybeans and while it is available as a commercial product, nothing compares to homemade.
It is considered one of the city’s Three Treasures (桂林三宝) – the other two are Guilin Sanhua Jiu (桂林三花酒), a variety of rice baijiu (hard liquor distilled from rice) and Guilin pickled tofu (桂林豆腐乳).
Guilin chili sauce is often made from peppers known as 朝天椒 (facing heaven chilis; pinyin: cháotiānjiāo), however, these are very hard to find in the U.S. As such, I have chosen instead to use the far-easier to source red serrano pepper in its place. With this one exception, my recipe is (as far as I can tell) the only recipe on the Web in English on how to make this unique and delicious condiment and it is totally authentic.
I even went so far as to seek out a native of Guilin for tips on how to make this properly. I hope you enjoy it, Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
200 g (heaping ¾ cup) fresh red Serrano peppers – left in the sun to dry for 1-3 days, slice stems off after drying
1/3 cup garlic cloves
1/3 cup Fermented black beans
1/3 cup Minced ginger
4 tbs. Tempeh, washed and drained
¾ cup + 4 Tablespoons (Doubanjiang) Fermented Bean paste 郫县豆瓣酱
2/3 cup Peanut oil
¼ cup Sesame oil
4 tbsp. shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp. Maotai liquor (茅台酒 / Máotái jiǔ)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
Combine all in food processor. Pour into wok and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes until liquid is gone. Pour into bottles and keep refrigerated.