Along with the best plate of rice I’ve ever been served, was an amazing dollop of chili paste on the side. Talking to the young woman who ran the restaurant (she couldn’t have been more than 25, and was at least 6 inches shorter than I was), she proudly boasted that it was her father’s famous recipe, known throughout town.
She proceeded to educate me that this type of chili paste– clearly speckled with the fermented black beans that the DiploMan and I love so much– is special to this area. Two small jars and a few large ones were all that remained from the Fall harvest. Fall Harvest? All that is left? I asked what she meant. She went on to describe that her family only makes the chili paste once a year, in the fall, when peppers are at their best. In the fall, peppers are their driest, which makes them most suitable for crushing into a thick chili paste. Like canning and preserving, this old-school method of making chili paste once a year proves that homemade is always better than store-bought.
We took the small jar home with us– and even among our 8 or so bottles of various chili pastes and sauces that are accruing in our fridge, I am starting to regret not having bought the large one.