During Tomb Sweeping Days some friends paid a visit to Shaanxi and together talked about Shaanxi cuisines of China local cuisines. Finally we came to the hot pepper oil, that is capsicol, which is quite legendary and important in Shaanxi local food. Maybe lots of people don’t take it for granted. Actually they are wrong. Seasoning, especially this hot pepper oil is the essence of Shaanxi local cuisines. You can imagine steamed cold noodles without hot pepper oil, shredded pancake in beef without hot pepper oil, sour spicy pork tripe soup with hot pepper oil… Chinese people in the central Shaanxi plain of China will have no appetite for meals without hot pepper oil.
Hot pepper oil is essential for Shaanxi local people in China.
How to cook the Capsicol (hot pepper oil)? Someone believes it’s so easy. There is nothing except the pulverized cayenne peppers splashed by the hot oil. However, the cooking process is actually exquisite. At first, the powder of Cayenne pepper is important. The key point is choosing the skin cayenne peppers called string peppers. The string peppers are both slender and plump. As they are said, the local villagers dry the cayenne peppers which are fully oily, pungent and aromatic in the sun, then, choose the crimson and bright ones. The local people addicted to pungency never buy the ready-made cayenne pepper powder for fear it should be mixed with alkali to make the peppery flavor and taste burning. They buy the dry cayenne peppers and require the seller to use the foot roller to pulverize the cayenne peppers roughly instead of pulverizing the peppers delicately which taste no fragrance and full pungency only. There are various seasonings such as anise, Chinese pepper, cinnamon, pepper, fennel, round cardamom, and clove. A bit of seasonings are pulverized and mixed into the pepper powder with salt and sesame completely. The people who love the Capsicol can distinguish the good pepper powder from the bad one. For example, Shan Xi Native, Zhang Yimou, flied into a rage because of the unauthentic pepper powder prepared in the shooting-film group of Shan Qiang.
Appealing red peppers!
The next step is to heat the oil. You must use the vegetable oil, which has been proved for many times. The salad oil is a bad choice, because it can`t produce flavor at all. Is it right to spill the oil when it is hot enough to cause smoke? Absolutely not. The proper oil temperature is rather important. If too high, the chili hot pepper powder will be burned and the flavor is changed. If too low, the hot pepper oil is only half cooked and loses flavor. So, when the smoke disappears and the oil cools down, it is the right time to spill the oil. We should spill much oil, at least until the oil can cover all the chili pepper powder, otherwise the hot pepper oil will not be delicious after a while. Then comes the most important step, which is passed down from central Shaanxi plain. When the oil is still hot, we should spill several drops of spiced vinegar. When the cool vinegar and the hot chili oil are well mixed together, there is the sizzling sound and bubbles on the saucer. And then comes the flavor of the hot pepper oil.
The just finished hot spicy pepper oil
As the saying goes: Hunan people of China eat pepper most to revolutionize, pepper-eating makes Sichuan people heroes, Shaanxi people also spare no effort to eat pepper. Absolutely, the determination and sharpness displayed in pepper-eating by Shaanxi people even frighten the outsiders. With pepper more than half in the big coarse porcelain bowl and scarlet pepper mixed with food, they wolf down until faces redden all over, sweat profusely, and then feel enjoyable. Even the children and women are not inferior when it comes to pepper-eating. Look! Most people sitting at street steamed cold noodles stalls are women and children. When the stall venders take a handful of steamed cold noodles and dip them in hot pepper oil, the bright red noodles are in the bowl. Everyone has his mouth full of oil, eats with relish, and urges after eating, another bowl with more pepper please.
Especially all kinds of noodles such as biang biang noodles with hot pepper oils are quite appealing and appetite for local Shaanxi people. Don’t even speak of eating; just have a look at the hot pepper oil, and you will water your mouth. Actually it’s quite easy to make the hot pepper oil and we can mix it well with cold dressed dishes. If you starve at midnight, you can just follow central Shaanxi natives to have a steamed bun dipped with the hot pepper oil, take it as sleeping oil. After all, it fits pepper-lovers. Quite simple, just have a try on hot pepper oil.
Biang Biang Noodles