Chiu Chow Chilli Oil: The Story Behind Guangdong's Secret Sauce
Ironically, Chiu Chow Chilli Oil never stood out in its native Chiu Chow (Chaozhou), China. It was Hong Kong's attraction to Chiu Chow noodles that actually popularised Chiu Chow Chilli Oil.
Many years ago, a wave of Chiu Chow people settled in Hong Kong. They were mostly coolies, living on cheap fish ball rice noodles every day. Each fish ball noodle shop had their own secret recipe, and gradually attracted a loyal following for the characteristic taste of their noodles. One factor affected the consistent taste of their noodles however - the chilli oil was handmade, and quality varied from batch to batch depending on the chilli peppers available at the time. Realising the issue, Lee Kum Kee decided to create a consistent Chiu Chow Chilli Oil that everyone could enjoy.
Lee Kum Kee Chiu Chow Chilli Oil has a balanced combination of fragrant chilli peppers and garlic. Its spiciness is not intrusive, initially mild but gradually warming up, unlike the instant numbing of lips and tongue that Sichuan peppers create, nor like Guangdong chilli oils, providing a single note of mild spiciness throughout. The characteristic luminous red of Chiu Chow Chilli Oil is also fascinating; it can be sprinkled on a dish to instantly stimulate appetite. The oil's strong fragrance can also excite the appetite.
Lee Kum Kee's R&D specialists spent much time on the final selection of chilli pepper varieties that are used in Chiu Chow Chilli Oil. The secret recipe produces a chilli oil masterpiece that maximises the aroma, strengthens the spiciness and results in a lovely bright red colour that perfectly complements the garlic flavour.