50ml neutral cooking oil
300g shallot, sliced
3 spring onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee chilli bean paste
3 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1½ teaspoons Sichuan pepper, ground
½ teaspoon white pepper, ground
½ cup light soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ tablespoon fish sauce (optional)

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1.Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot and add the shallots, spring onions and garlic.
2.Cook over a moderate heat, stirring regularly, for 8-10 minutes until beginning to caramelise.
3.Add the sugar and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes.
4.Add the chilli bean paste and sriracha sauce and continue cooking for 1-3 minutes until your nostrils tingle.
5.Add the crushed dry spices and cook for a minute until fragrant.
6.Add soy sauce, vinegar and fish sauce, if using. Bring to a simmer for 3-4 minutes and remove from the heat.
7.Put in a food processor and blitz for 1-2 minutes to amalgamate.
8.Allow to cool and store in the fridge for up to a week.
9.Toss through noodles, stir-fries and soups.

Food styling, recipes & photography David Neville