Sichuan ingredients (SFBA)

I picked up some pixian doubanjiang and red sichuan peppercorns (though green were also available) at 99 Ranch in Pleasanton. I expect the Daly City branch to have them, too. Haven’t found them in the city proper. Still haven’t found any suimi yacai…

Bought some at Richmond New May Wah Supermarket on Clement last week.

Manila Oriental had good quality reds and greens two months ago when I last looked, which is kind of surprising because it’s tough enough to find good quality ones at Chinese owned businesses.

Whole Green Sichuan peppercorns at China Live. $6.99/0.8 oz bottle. That’s six times the price I’ve gotten elsewhere, but they look fresh. It’s in a stand at the entrance to the restaurant area.

They have a few other jars with ground chilies with Sichuan written on the label in English. I don’t know what these are. One says 小末辣.

It didn’t occur to me earlier. but you may have good luck looking for both the commonly found as well as more specialty or gourmet items on Taobao. Many ship to the US. You’ll need a translator.四川+花椒&imgfile=&js=1&stats_click=search_radio_all%3A1&initiative_id=staobaoz_20170619&ie=utf8

Manila also has Pixian doubanjiang. Could not find yacai there though.

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I found these today very well hidden on a shelf at Sun Kau Shing Co. at 1352 Stockton St almost on the corner of Vallejo St where Little City Meats is. 3 oz for $1.79. The place is packed with products if you know what you are looking for.

Marina Foods in San Mateo has two varieties of ya cai: Suimiyacai has been available for a few years. Suixinyacai is a new variety that has soy sauce added. I won’t have a chance to cook the latter for a few weeks, so if anyone has tried it, let us know how it compares. They’re on the border of the frozen foods and produce section.

Marina Food in San Mateo has Daping brand dried Qibei (Yunnan) chilies. They’re 3” long and a dark, almost purpleish, red. I ate one raw. Not particularly spicy, even the seeds, with a slight sweetness (to confirm, I took a small bite of a Thai chili from Rainbow as a comparison, and my mouth is on fire). This batch expires in September and some chilies had a whitish coating, possibly mold so maybe keep in mind for the future.

Got a bag today. They are the most expensive among the Double Koi Fish brand (I don’t know their English name) and the Hanyuan Browns. I haven’t eaten it, but I have one pork belly rubbed with salt and this chili. I am sitting a room away and the floral fragrance sometimes waft over. The bag of chili smells good.

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Ok, I went back to the kitchen and threw 3 or 4 Big Green brand peppercorn into my mouth. First a little floral and bitter taste and not much numbing, then 10 seconds later its full on numbing and salty. Took multiple rinses and a few minutes to totally get rid of the numbing effect and salty taste.

Then I did a taste comparison of a bag of Double Koi Fish brand of red peppercorn that I have lying around. Not sure when I bought it. Smelled more muted and subdued, but could be due to age. Threw 4 into my mouth. A little floral and relatively more bitter. 10 seconds later, just a little saltiness and numbness.

Obviously this comparison doesn’t control for age of the peppercorn, but I say I like the Big Green brand much more.

Old ones taste like bitter sawdust, but I find fresher reds/browns more bitter than green in general. I consider that a feature rather than a bug—- I’m still figuring out which one works best with what, but for earthy umami, but not sweet, flavors, I like that bitterness more than the citrusy notes.

Gold thread has a nice primer on a few Sichuan ingredient. Regarding ya cai, she says, “They’re a key component to an authentic dan dan noodle—say no to any version without it!”

A minority of SFBA Dan Dan mian’s, or string beans for that matter, use ya cai and I can recall one chef at a “Sichuan” restaurant not knowing what it was. Bean sprouts have the same name and Chinese characters, so asking for them sometimes causes confusion. I’ve had better luck showing the photo of a pack of ya cai.

New Sang Chong market in San Leandro has Ya Cai

Bean sprouts are called “ya cai” in Cantonese, but “dou ya” in Guoyu (but pronounced “dou nga” by my Shanghainese wife).

I just bought a “Chengdu chili pepper” plant (picture is seller’s photo of what’s it’s supposed to look like when grown, 4-6 inches long). The seller didn’t know much about it. Does this look like Er jing tiao 二荆条 or is it something else?

Has anyone in the Berkeley area found a local source for ya cai? I’ve been making the Woks of Life shortcut dan dan noodles on repeat , but I’ve been using different mustard greens I found at 99 Ranch in Richmond. I’d love to try it with ya cai.

i don’t know any store in Berkeley or nearby that has it but I do see some products on amazon kinda pricy but an affordable indulgence too if you’re looking for the prepared kind.

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It’s not in Berkeley but I think I have seen it at H-Mart (and I think also at Ranch99)

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Which location and where in the store do they keep it ? (I looked for it in SF location in November and either didn’t see it or it had a too soon expiration ; on a positive note, they have Pixian doubanjiang and green and red Sichuan peppercorns).

You can get it on Amazon for cheaper, but I’d go with a more reliable online supplier:

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