A few weeks ago, one of my chef instructors at culinary school gave us a recipe for spring rolls. With the rolls, she served a sweet and sour dipping sauce that we all loved. Sure, the spring rolls were great, but the dipping sauce – oh man. It was sinfully addicting.
The sauce, called Mae Ploy, is a sweet chili sauce made in Thailand. It’s perfect for dipping with spring rolls, chicken wings or fried crab wontons. Generally, Mai Ploy is good on just about anything edible.
The next question, of course, was where on earth could we get our hands on some Mae Ploy? I started searching the shelves in nearby grocery stores, such as Safeway, Whole Foods and Giant, always leaving empty-handed. Frustrated, I decided to settle on the only product I could find, Frank’s Red Hot Sweet Chili Sauce.
I instantly had a bad feeling about Frank’s. Who is to say that Frank knew the first thing about sweet chili sauce? The screaming red letters on the label combined with surrounding purple and green made me dizzy. The product’s website also had a creepy old lady on it. Frank’s was not to be trusted.
Used as a marinade on beef or shrimp, this sauce is actually decent. Don’t use this as a dipping sauce, though. It’s simply not that good enough to stand on its own.
I’d just about lost hope, until one day, while walking to the U Street Metro from my apartment, I spotted Hana Japanese Market. Located on the corner of U and 17th, this tiny market sells every Asian product you could imagine, including Mae Ploy. I bought three bottles and giddily ran home, eager to try it with a stir fry. Success!