Among most of the condiments that I adore, Chinese chili paste holds its position at the peak. In fact, particularly, I would like to call it “Sri Lankan style” Chinese chili paste, kind of Chinese chili paste that you find in most of the Chinese food joints in Sri Lanka. Frankly, I have tasted Chinese chili paste in four China-towns in North America, and trust me, none of them were not made for our tongue as what we have in Sri Lanka. Usually, when I visit Sri Lanka, there are several Chinese restaurants that we visit often in central Colombo, where we are treated as highly valued guests. So, last time when I visited one of these Chinese restaurants, I got the liberty of asking about the recipe from the head-chef, directly. To mention, this is a chef of a leading 5-star hotel in downtown Colombo. Hope all who seek this amazing and original (Sri Lankan style) taste will find what they expect.
- 100g chili flakes
- 12-15 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 tbsp of finely chopped ginger
- 2 tbsp of sugar- adjust according to your taste.
- 50g of dried small shrimps ( Kunisso)
- 2 ½ cups of cooking oil
- 3 tbsp of soy sauce
- Salt to taste
- Glutamate (eg: Aginomoto) (Optional)
Firstly, start deep frying the finely chopped garlic in a cooking pot under medium heat. Remember to use chopped garlic instead of garlic paste if you need to get the original taste. Now, after around 3 minutes, add the finely chopped ginger to the pot and fry until both turn to light brown or light golden color.
Then, add the small shrimps to the pot and let all fry together.
Always remember to wash the shrimps really well as they may have fine sand grains. Also, it is always necessary to frequently spoon while frying, throughout each step. Please do remember that. Now, once the garlic has become golden color and shrimps look fried, add 1 tsp of salt and take the pot out of the heat, temporarily, in order to cool down a little bit. Because, before we add the chilies we must make sure that the oil is not at a super high temperature that would over cook the chili flakes, instantly. This is a really important aspect of this recipe. So, after around 40 seconds, add the chili flakes to the pot.
Now in very low heat start to cook everything for around 30 seconds. Remember don’t let the chilies turn in to roasted color. Then, add the soy sauce and sugar, and mix rigorously and continue cooking for around 30 seconds.
Finally, transfer the chili paste to a serving bowl from the warm pot, immediately. Now, you can taste and adjust the salt and even sugar according to your taste. Always remember, it is better to keep the chili paste merged in the oil that it has already. If you feel like you need to remove the oil out of it, always make sure to do it only when the dish becomes cold or to the room temperature, or else, it will become crystalized. Hooray… enjoy.
You can also add 1/2tsp of glutamate (Eg. Ajinomoto) at any step after frying the shrimps. Remember, this is optional. For me, I don’t find it as an important ingredient. Frankly, I manage to make my food as healthier as possible and I have a somewhat resistance to use artificial ingredients as glutamate.