Food News

DFW’s Heat Map of Asian Chili Oils

That's not perfume but should be treated like it is; start with just a dab.
That's not perfume but should be treated like it is; start with just a dab. Didi Paterno
Condiments are a cornerstone in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. Always present at tables in homes and restaurants, diners customize their dipping sauces, soups and noodles to their personal tastes. The condiments range from savory (soy sauce) to sour with various kinds of vinegar or citrus and, of course, chilis for heat.

Chili oils and chili crisps, specifically, are the hottest condiment of the hour. Ground chilis are mixed with aromatic spices and steeped in oil. But one can get lost in the variety available to us in the area. So we took a lot of heat for y’all to curate a selection of chili oils that will add a punch to your meals.
click to enlarge
Look for Mrs. Huabi Taoon's picture on a bottle of Lan Gao Ma chili oils.
Didi Paterno
Your neighborhood Asian supermarket is one of the key sources for a bottle of chili oil. Scour the condiment aisle for the face that launched more than a million chili oil bottles. The range of Lan Gao Ma or LGM chili oils from Guizhou, China, have the distinct photo of founder Mrs. Huabi Taoon on its labels. Any bottle packs a punch, and there's a variety of different crunchy textures along with the numbing tingle of Sichuan peppers. If you’d rather shy away from fiery red chili oils, a bottle of green pepper-shiitake mushroom sauce in which the green peppers bring a brightness to the mushroom’s umami is a great option.
click to enlarge
Fly by Jing can be bought at Whole Foods and is a heat-packing staple for your pantry.
Didi Paterno
Fly by Jing, specialty chili oils crafted by Chengdu-born founder Jing Gao, sent us a box of their signature products including zhong sauce, Sichuan chili crisp and their latest pepper oils, which are now available at Whole Foods. Their zhong sauce — sweet, savory with a touch of heat — takes away all trial and error: Crack open a bottle, scoop a little over your favorite dumplings and you’re good to go.

The Sichuan chili crisp is lip-smacking hot and crave-inducing. Like pure perfume, when a dab or two may be enough, so are the Fly by Jing chili oils. Packaged in perfume-y bottles, tap a drop of the oil into a teaspoon to taste and then work your way up to the preferred level of flavor and heat.

North Texas also has a selection of locally made chili oils.
click to enlarge
April's Kitchen makes a milder garlic-heavy option that's made locally.
Didi Paterno
April’s Kitchen crunchy garlic chili oil is a vampire’s nightmare but a garlic lover’s dream. With much more crispy garlic than chili, this milder chili oil is available for orders through their Instagram page as well as local retailers including Kabayan Filipino Store and Café in Lewisville and Dallas, and Van Tran Oriental Market in Fort Worth.

Trammy Duong, owner of Mama 5 Spicy, does not joke around when she clearly asks on the business’ Instagram page, “Can you handle the heat?” This chili oil blend, which you can order directly through her Instagram, is the hottest among the ones we’ve tried, so very little will go a long way.

While the most familiar application of chili oil is adding a dollop to your dumplings’ soy sauce dip, chili oil use has gone wild with no limits on its use, including ice cream topping. Simply take a little — or a lot — and add it to your steak, steamed rice, sunny-side-up eggs, barbecue, soups, stir fry, noodles or steamed vegetables. Duong uses it on spaghetti or lasagna for that extra kick instead of red pepper flakes.
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.

Latest Stories