08 Feb How to Make Chilli Oil
If you hang around our blog, it doesn’t take long to realize that we are kind of obsessed with all things chilli oil and hot sauce.
From sriracha, to spicy bean paste, to chilli oil.
My philosophy is that pretty much everything can be improved with some chilli. A plate of noodles or a bowl of fried rice just isn’t as good without some delicious chilli oil on top. Pot of gumbo boiling on the stove? Needs something……oh yeah MORE HOT SAUCE.
Which brings me to the current issue at hand: how to make chilli oil at home. If you go to any Chinese restaurant ask for chilli oil, they will bring out a deliciously fragrant, dark red, viscous chilli oil that could make even a piece of shoe leather taste good.
Since visiting China, We have tried to approximate these tasty chilli with only limited success. There was some secret that we just weren’t getting–a trifecta, if you will, of key elements and perfectly executed conditions that would lead us to the perfect chilli oil recipe.
Well. After a few experiments in the kitchen (we’ve still got the mediocre jars of chilli oil at the back of the fridge to prove it), I think I’ve created the perfect chilli oil. The secret is to infuse the oil with aromatics first, then pour it over ASIAN crushed chilli flakes. These flakes are brighter red and have fewer seeds than your run-of-the-mill Italian crushed red pepper flakes, which tend to be roasted longer and darker (pouring hot oil over them results in a burnt, dull-flavored chilli oil, and no one wants that).
We’ve used this chilli oil recipe for fried rices, noodles, noodle soups, and in cold cucumber salads, and it has a magical ability to elevate EVERYTHING. In fact, every time we eat it, we still engage in silent, solemn head-shaking, in awe of how good it tastes. One of our favorite recipes for using this chilli oil is our Sichuan Spicy Red oil wonton and I’m sure you will be happy after you give it a try!
And the best part? Homemade chili oil is actually extremely simple to make.
You KNOW you want some.
- 1½ cups oil (ideally a vegetable, peanut, or grapeseed oil…light olive oil is fine, but it has a tendency to set in the fridge)
- 5 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick, preferably cassia cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons peppercorns
- ¾ cup Asian crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 – 1½ teaspoons salt (to taste)
Heat the oil, star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium high heat. When the oil starts to bubble slightly, turn the heat down to medium.
Let the oil cook for 30 minutes like this. If you start to see that slight bubbling die down, periodically turn the heat back up to medium-high, then back down to medium if it gets too hot.
When the oil is done cooking, the seeds and pods should be darker in color, but not blackened (that means they burned, which results in subpar chili oil). Let the oil cool for 5 minutes. In a separate heat-proof bowl, measure out the crushed red pepper flakes and salt.
Remove the aromatics from the oil using a strainer or a fine mesh strainer if you have one.
Slowly pour the oil over the red chilli flakes, and stir well.
When completely cooled, transfer to a jar, and store in the refrigerator. The oil will keep for up to 6 months when stored this way (always remember to use a clean spoon to dip into the jar!)