The Blazing Tale Of Lao Gan Ma
Image Credit: Lao Gan Ma

Tao Huabi, the founder of Lao Gan Ma, has been dubbed "China's hottest woman" due to the success of her chili sauce brand, translated as "Old Godmother." But the story of how this humble sauce became a global phenomenon is as spicy as the sauce itself.

The History of Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp

Lao Gan Ma (LGM) is a spicy Chinese condiment that is often called "hot China" and is increasingly gaining popularity in the U.S. and other countries due to its unique flavor and ability to add a flavorful kick to any dish.

It all began in 1997, when a woman named Tao Huabi started selling her homemade chili crisp from a small storefront in Guizhou, a province in southwestern China. At the time, chili crisp was a relatively obscure condiment, known only to a select few foodies. But Tao had a secret ingredient in her sauce: a special blend of chili peppers that gave it a unique, fiery flavor.

Word of Tao's chili crisp spread quickly, and before long, she was inundated with orders from all over the country. In an effort to meet the growing demand, Tao rented a factory and began mass-producing her sauce. She dubbed it "Lao Gan Ma," or "Old Godmother," after a nickname she had earned for her maternal nature.

It was especially popular with college students and other young people who liked to spice up their meals. The product quickly became popular in China, the U.S., and other countries and started selling like hot cakes in supermarkets, specialty stores, and online.

Lao Gan Ma Ingredients and Recipes

The chili peppers give the sauce its signature fiery flavor, while the oil and fermented soybeans add savory and umami notes. The exact recipe for Lao Gan Ma's spicy chili crisp is a closely guarded secret, but here is a recipe for a homemade version of the sauce that comes close:


2 cups chili flakes 

1 cup of vegetable oil

1 cup fermented soybeans


1.    In a blender or food processor, combine the chili flakes and fermented soybeans.

2.    Blend until the mixture is well combined and resembles a coarse paste.

3.    Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

4.    Add the chili and soy sauce paste to the pan and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, until the paste smells good and the oil has a strong chili taste.

5.    Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool completely.

6.    Transfer the sauce to a jar and store it in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

The Different Varieties of Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp

There are several different varieties of LGM, each with its own unique flavor. The most popular variety is the Original Spicy Chili Crisp, which has a bold and spicy flavor. There is also the Chili Oil, which is a milder version of the Original. The chili tomato is a sweet and sour variety, and the chili crisp with fermented black beans has a unique flavor.

The Popularity of Lao Gan Ma in China and Around the World

LGM has become increasingly popular in recent years and is now sold in more than 80 countries around the world.

One of the reasons for Lao Gan Ma's global popularity is its unique flavor. The sauce is made with a special blend of chili peppers that gives it a fiery kick, and it is balanced out by the savory flavors of the fermented soybeans and oil.

Another factor in Lao Gan Ma's popularity is its convenience. The sauce comes in a jar, making it easy to store and use. It is also shelf-stable, which means it can be kept for a long time without spoiling. This makes it a perfect condiment for those who are always on the go.

The Best Ways to Enjoy Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp

Here are some of the best ways to enjoy this fiery sauce:

Noodles: Lao Gan Ma is a perfect topping for noodles, adding a spicy kick to any dish. Try tossing it with noodles, vegetables, and your choice of protein for a quick and delicious meal.

Rice: Lao Gan Ma is also a great way to spice up a simple bowl of rice. Just a spoonful of the sauce can add a lot of flavor to your meal.

Soups: Add a spoonful of Lao Gan Ma to your favorite soups for a spicy kick. It's especially delicious in spicy soups like tom yum or hot and sour soup.

Stir-fries: Lao Gan Ma is a great addition to stir-fries, adding a spicy and savory flavor to your dish. Just toss a spoonful of the sauce into your stir-fry at the end of cooking to give it a boost of flavor.

Snacks: Lao Gan Ma is also a delicious topping for snacks like popcorn, chips, and crackers. Just sprinkle a little bit of the sauce over your snack of choice for a spicy twist.

Sandwiches: Lao Gan Ma can also be used as a condiment for sandwiches for a spicy twist on a classic meal.

Today, Lao Gan Ma is a household name in China, and the company has expanded beyond its domestic market to countries all over the world. In fact, it's become so popular that it's spawned a whole category of imitators and knockoffs.

But despite its global fame, Lao Gan Ma remains true to its roots. The company is still family-owned and operated, and Tao herself is still heavily involved in the business. She is often seen on the factory floor, overseeing production and taste-testing new batches of sauce.

So, the next time you reach for a jar of Lao Gan Ma chili crisp, take a moment to appreciate the spicy story of how it came to be. And remember, a little bit of this fiery sauce goes a long way—just ask any of its devoted fans around the world.