Homemade Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp (Ten Times Better Than Store-bought)
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Today, we are making Lao Gan Ma from scratch. Some of you may think I can get it in most Asian markets. What's the point of making it at home? Well, the Asian markets outside of China usually carry the most basic version of chili crisp. This company actually has dozens of different products, and there is one called 豆豉牛肉酱， which is what I think is the best product from this brand. You can think of it as the "Lao Gan Ma Plus." Why? It contains ground beef, a game-changer that makes lao gan ma taste ten times better. If you already love chili crisp, think about adding beef jerky bite to it. Trust me, it is additively delicious. Let's get started!
Souped Up Recipes
- 250g of ground beef
1 tsp of salt
- 1.5 tsp of soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine
- 2 cups of peanut oil; if allergic, use your preferred cooking oil
- 4 scallions, cut into stalks
- A handful of cilantro leaves
- 1/2 of a purple onion, sliced thinly
- 6-8 slices of ginger
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1.5 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorns
- 10 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp of raw sesame seed
- 1 cup of fermented black beans
- 1.5 cups / 120g of red chili flake
- 2-3 tbsp of soy sauce to adjust the taste at the end
- 1.5 tsp of sugar
- 1 tsp of MSG, optional
To Season the Beef
To Season the Oil
Soak 2 star anises, 1 cinnamon stick, and 1.5 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorns. in hot water for about 20 minutes because if they are dry, they will burn fast in the oil. A little bit of moisture will give them enough time to transfer the aroma to the oil without burning.
- Season the ground beef with 1 tsp of salt, 1.5 tsp of soy sauce, and 1 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine. Mix until well combined. Please do not stir in one direction because we want the beef bites to be nice and loose. Set the beef aside.
Drain the star anise, cinnamon stick, and Sichuan peppercorns and add them to the oil.
Add 2 cups of oil, scallion stalks, cilantro leaves, purple onion, and ginger slices to a pot. I am using peanut oil, but any high smoke point vegetable oil will work well for this recipe, such as soybean, corn, and sunflower seeds oil. Also, please use a big pot to prevent overflowing.
- Turn the heat to medium and stir all the aromatics constantly for about 20 minutes or until the aromatics are golden on the edge.
- Use a strainer to sieve out all the aromatics and leave the oil behind. We don't need the aromatics for this recipe any more, but you can toss them into homemade stock, and they will add so much fragrance to the soup.
- Optionally, tear the lithospermum root (紫草) into smaller pieces and add it to a sieve. Put it into the hot oil and stir for 20-30 seconds or until the oil turns into a reddish-purple color. Remove the lithospermum root from the oil and discard it. This ingredient doesn't add any flavor. That is why it is optional, but I love the color it brings.
- Add the seasoned ground beef and minced garlic to the oil and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the garlic is slightly golden. It is very normal to see foamy bubbles during this process; don't freak out.
- Remove the beef and the garlic from the pot and set them aside, leaving the oil behind. Later on, we will have to bring the temperature to 400F. The beef contains a lot of moisture. If you don't remove it, the oil's temperature will not rise.
- Turn the heat to high and bring the oil's temperature to 400F. This is important because we need the heat to activate the fragrance of the sesame, chili flake, and fermented black beans.
- Add raw sesame seeds and red chili flakes. Then, turn off the heat immediately so you don't burn anything. Make sure the chili flake fits your spice tolerance. If your sesame seeds are toasted already, please add them at the end.
- Add 1 cup of fermented black beans. Introduce the beef and garlic back into the pot. Keep stirring until all the bubbling activity is calmed.
- Adjust the flavor by adding some sugar and soy sauce and mix well. Every brand of fermented black beans has a different sodium level so you just have to go by taste. If you are a fan of uncle roger, go ahead and add 2 tsp of MSG.
- Store the lao gan ma in a sealed jar. It can stay good at room temperature for two months and six months in the fridge. You can eat it immediately, but if you let it sit for a week, it will taste even better.