Lan Chi Chili Paste with Garlic

Lan Chi Chili Garlic Paste

Lan Chi Chili Paste with Garlic

In retail, there’s Amazon. In Asian condiments, there’s Lee Kum Kee. This maker of good-but-not-great sauces and relishes has been gobbling up shelf space in Oriental markets to the detriment of smaller brands, notably Lan Chi.

Lan Chi used to have a dozen facings at my nearest local source, Asian Supermarket in Albany. Today they’re gone. The greatest loss is Lan Chi Chili Paste with Garlic, a complex and multifaceted product (in addition to potent amount of roasted chili and funky garlic, it also contains fermented black beans) that’s the perfect foil to a Chinese lunch or a dim sum platter. I’m not alone in this preference; ask any knowledgeable chef which Chinese chili sauce they prefer and they’ll say Lan Chi.

When my backup supply finally ran out, I assumed I’d be able to pick up a jar on a trip to San Francisco Chinatown. But no luck in half a dozen establishments. I began to wonder what had happened and of course consulted Facebook, where Lan Chi Foods had last posted in 2012: “Life is good…sleeping in the hammock enjoying #slumvillage, #macallen18 and a full moon!” A couple of people responded to the post by asking where the Chili Garlic Paste had gone, but there were no replies. One guesses the business has passed to a new generation where preserving the brand is not the highest priority.

I did find a few online sources, fortunately, and placed a successful order at Kim’s Asian Market. The shipping was a flat $6.99 so I was able to bring the per-jar cost down by ordering multiples. (If you’re in a hurry, this source will sell it to you via Amazon Prime, but you’ll pay.) I advise you to do the same. A jar lasts me about 3 years, so divide your life expectancy by that number and purchase accordingly before this manna goes away for good.

This entry was posted in Eating. Bookmark the permalink.