In many kitchens in China you’ll likely find a bottle or three of Lao Gan Ma, a crisp chili oil infused with a potent mix of dried chili peppers, fried onions, peanuts, fermented soybeans and, yes, MSG. It is ideal for spicing up staple Chinese dishes such as dumplings and fried rice, delivering the perfect balance of heat and crunch, as well as a delightful hit of umami. It is also one of the bestselling condiments in the country, with sales of over US$770 million in 2019. Today, savvy foodies in the West are catching on, from chefs to critics to celebrities. In 2018, American professional wrestler John Cena waxed lyrical about Lao Gan Ma – in Mandarin to boot – in a video posted on Weibo.
Feb 05, 2021