It’s rare that we include a particular brand of sauce in our Ingredients Glossary, as we usually write articles about a general ingredient and then suggest brands to try within that category. However, we’re making an exception for Lao Gan Ma chili sauces, because we always have them in our pantry and feature them in several of our recipes!
What Is Lao Gan Ma Chili Sauce?
She was born into a poor family in a remote mountain village and did not fully learn to read or write. Widowed a few years after marrying her husband and having two kids, she opened a noodle shop to support her family.
She soon became well-known for the special chili sauce she served with her noodles, set up her own sauce factory, and became a self-made billionaire with an international sauce empire!
The brand offers many varieties of chili sauces, but our favorites are the Chili Sauce with Black Beans that Sarah featured in our first ever recipe post, Simple, Spicy Pan fried Noodles, and Spicy Chili Crisp Sauce, which we feature in our Thai Basil Shrimp Fried Rice recipe.
Lao Gan Ma sauces are also very popular outside of China, with many of our food-loving friends here in the U.S. very well-aware of these tasty condiments.
Are there different types?
Yes, many Lao Gan Ma products have emerged over the years, but there are three main types that are most popular from our perspective. Everyone has their favorite!
1. Lao Gan Ma Chili Oil with Black Bean
The undisputed favorite in our family, this chili sauce was our first introduction to Lao Gan Ma sauces. The mixture of chilies and preserved black beans has such rich umami flavors. It remains one of our favorite jarred sauces to put on just about anything!
2. Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp:
This is probably the most popular Lao Gan Ma product outside of China. It combines chilies and fermented soybeans with garlic and onions. The sauce does have an irresistibly “crisp” texture.
3. Lao Gan Ma Hot Chili Sauce:
One of the brand’s most unique varieties, this has chili, peanut, fried beancurd, and preserved root vegetable (the label says it’s rutabaga), to create a uniquely crunchy texture and rich flavor.
How Is It Used?
We really can’t talk enough about how much we LOVE this sauce. It’s affectionately known around here as “lady sauce.” We coined that nickname when we first noted the same stern-faced lady on every jar.
The Woks of Life clan uses this sauce for just about anything. We use the Chili Sauce with Black Bean most often, as a condiment for fried rice, stir-fried noodles, pan-fried noodles, noodle soups, and dumplings.
We’ve also developed several recipes that use it (scroll down to the bottom of this post for links).
Buying & Storing
You can find these chili sauces wherever Chinese ingredients are sold. You can also buy it online from several sellers, though as with all Chinese packaged products found on Amazon it seems, it will be significantly more expensive than in-store prices.
Refrigerate these sauces after opening and always use a clean utensil when handling. We find it can last in the fridge for up to 6 months. Honestly, though, it never really lasts that long.
Our Favorite Recipes That Use This Ingredient
You can also use it as a condiment for these dishes:
- Shrimp Fried Rice
- Pineapple Fried Rice
- Pork Fried Rice
- Braised Beef Noodle Soup
- Or whatever you want really!
If you have further questions about this ingredient, let us know in the comments.