Last night I made my favorite Thai dishes: Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken and Eggplant & Bok Choy with Bean Sauce. United Noodle (my local Asian grocery) was out of the japanese/chinese eggplants (the long skinny purple ones) so I used Thai eggplants (round and green) instead. They don’t hold together as well in the dish, but it tasted just as marvelous as ever.
I used to be able to buy jars of Chili Garlic Paste and Yellow Bean Sauce that I liked. But my preferred brand of Chili Garlic Paste is no longer available and the “starch” included in the Yellow Bean Sauce became suspect. So now I make my own.
Many of the recipes for these condiments that appear online seem to be trying to imitate BAD additive- and preservative-filled versions that you might find in a jar at the grocery store. They add thickeners like cornstarch and/or gums. I decided to just stick to the essential flavors and make these sauces as simply as possible. Here’s what I do:
Chili Garlic Paste
I combine the ideas from the two recipes cited above and use a combination of dry and fresh chilies, soaked in boiling water with a few cloves of garlic and then pureed in food processor with salt, sugar, and some oil. If I’m going to use the paste within a day, I just store it in a glass bowl until I need it. If I’m going to store any of it, I heat it first (in an attempt to kill off any bacteria from the fresh garlic and chilies) and then store in the freezer.
Here are the proportions I used most recently:
- 3 large mild dry chiles (e.g. Guajillo), stems removed
- 6 small hot dry chiles (e.g. Szechuan), stems removed
- 4 fresh chiles (Thai, serrano, or jalapeño), stems removed
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2-3 Tablespoons oil (sesame, canola)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar (white or brown)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Put the chiles and garlic in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving some of the water and seeds.
- Cut the larger chiles into smaller pieces.
- Put all the ingredients into a food processor, blender, or mini-chopper. Purée until smooth, adding oil or water if needed.
- Heat in small saucepan over medium heat until bubbly. Will keep for several days in the refrigerator or longer in the freezer.
Black Bean Sauce
I haven’t found a good explanation of the difference between Thai Yellow Bean Sauce and the more familiar Black Bean Sauce. I do enjoy Black Bean Sauce, so even though it probably makes my Thai dish more “fusion,” I decided to use Black Bean Sauce in the Eggplant & Bok Choy dish instead of Yellow Bean Sauce that contains “starch” of undefined origin.
The most difficult part of making your own Black Bean Sauce is finding Salted Black Beans. I get mine at a local Asian market in a bag that looks like this:
Note that these are not the same as the black beans you would use for mexican food. They are fermented in salt. I store mine in the freezer.
- 1/2 cup fermented/salted black beans
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon gluten-free Tamari
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Place fermented/salted black beans in a small saucepan and add water. Leave to sit to rehydrate the beans (approx. 30 minutes, can be done earlier in the day).
- Add all the remaining ingredients.
- Heat over medium heat until bubbly and thickened. Stir occasionally.