If you look around, Chili Oil seems like the latest craze out there… From dumplings to chow mein and everything in between, your food gets elevated with a delicious and addictive, aromatic and appetizing, kick of spice!!
Pour it over noodles, drizzle it over eggs, toss it with cucumbers and keep on dipping those wontons, once you get the hang of it. You would want your very own bottle of this vibrant red colored chili oil in your pantry.
If you are like me, temped to buy one of those chili oil bottles in some Asian store, please don’t!! We are going to tell you the how to make chili oil in your very own kitchen. It’s easy, it’s quick and it’s brimming with a beautiful spicy kick (not anything that you can’t handle)…
By now, you surely must know we love food with BOLD flavors here. We, including our almost 4 year old, don’t shy away from a little good old kick when it comes to hot and spicy things.
Our Hunan Shrimp, Pork Vindaloo, Shrimp Fra Diavolo or even Gigi Hadid Pasta are perfect examples of recipes that are so so delicious with just a little extra kick of spice. Why? Cos spicy is delicious!!
So when we had our latest dumpling chow down on one of our travels, we couldn’t get over the red fiery looking sauce that they come drenched in. A little digging, and its nothing but simple chili oil. So simple that you can literally make it with just two ingredients. Chili flakes and oil…
What is Chili Oil
As stated above, at its core it is just your regular oil infused with chilis. But it’s so popular in some of the southeast Asian countries that everyone has their own favorite recipe for chili oil, with a lot of other aromatics thrown in it.
The Chinese chili oil might be a tad bit different than one from Korea, and can have different aromatics from Japanese chili oil.
It’s one of their favorite condiments, generously drizzled over noodles, eggs and salads. Sometimes it can be a major ingredient in recipes like Chinese dan dan noodles and cucumber salad. Very often, it is used as a dip for meats, as well as their delicate dim sums.
Any type of neutral oil, such as canola or peanut oil, is used for infusing chili pepper flavor. Hot oil is poured over chilis, and then allowed to cool. That’s it for basic chili oil.
Many times, though, lots of other aromatics like star anis, bay leaves, Sichuan peppercorns, black peppercorns, shallots, garlic and ginger are added for extra flavor.
Ingredients for Chili Oil
- Oil – We are using canola oil today, but you can use any other neutral oil like vegetable oil, peanut oil, avocado oil or soybean oil.
- Chili Peppers – We are using 2 types of chili peppers. Korean chili peppers, known as Gochugaru, and regular red chili flakes. Gochugaru are milder chili peppers compared to others, but give a beautiful red color to this chili oil, without too much spice. Some people use whole dried Asian chili peppers and crush them in a blender to infuse them in oil. For hotter flavors, you can use Thai red chili peppers or Sichuan chili peppers.
- Spice Aromatics – Star anis, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, Sichuan peppercorns, cardamom pods.
- Salt – Salt is a natural preservative, and it accentuates the flavors of all the aromatics and spices.
How to Make Chili Oil
1. Prepare spice aromatics: For basic chili oil, you can skip this step and simply use oil and chili flakes. But many people like to infuse simple spice flavors to the chili oil, too. To extract the maximum flavors, you need to dry roast them in a pan over medium high heat for a few minutes until they are fragrant. Make sure not to burn them.
2. Heat the oil: Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles start to appear and the oil is hot. Add in all your spice aromatics like star anis, cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and Sichuan peppercorns. Simmer it gently for 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on your oil, so as not to burn the aromatics. There should be slow bubbles coming from the aromatics all the time.
3. Pour the hot oil over chili flakes: In a sturdy, heat proof bowl or jar, mix the Koran chili peppers and regular chili flakes, along with salt. Now pour the oil over the chili flakes through a strainer, so as to strain the aromatics out of oil
Tip: If your strainer is small, you may wish to first remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves from the oil with a spoon.
You will see the chili flakes sizzling with bubbles as you pour the oil. Let it settle a bit, then stir the chili flakes and oil together to distribute the heat of the oil evenly. Allow the chili oil to cool before storing. We like to add couple of star anis and the cinnamon stick back to the oil container to retain the beautiful spice aroma to the oil.
How to Store Chili Oil
Since this version only uses dry spices, this can be stored at room temperature in an air tight container jar with a seal lid. Keep it in a cool, dry place in your pantry. Use clean utensils every time you scoop chili oil to prevent any contamination. You can store this chili oil up to 5-6 months.
If using garlic or shallots to flavor the oil, it is best to store it in the refrigerator.
What Other Aromatics Can Be Used to Flavor Chili Oil
How to flavor the oil comes down to every person’s preference, and their family’s favorite chili oil recipe.
Garlic, shallots, ginger root, soy sauce, sesame seeds, Chinese five spice powder, cloves and so much more… The basic chili oil though lacks many of those. Some people call it chili crisp when adding all these extra additives. We will make our own chili crisp very soon…
How to Use Chili Oil (Serving Suggestions)
Chili oil is a great condiment for all your favorite Asian foods like dim sums, dumplings, wontons and momos. It can be drizzled over noodles, stir fries, chow mein or ramen, or be used as a dipping sauce for meats.
Drizzle it over your fried eggs, Turkish eggs, or drench your boiled eggs in it. It’s great over avocado toast with either eggs, or even with blistered tomatoes and eggs.
This is a Must ingredient for Chinese Cucumber Salad, and their famous Dan Dan noodles.
You can use just the oil as a cooking base for so many recipes, to give extra flavor to the dish.
Straining The Chili Oil
Some people strain the chili oil. Simply pour the prepared oil though a thin sieve, then discard the chili flakes. It’s a personal preference and varies from region to region.
We found out that we love our chili oil with plenty of nutty chili flakes settling at the bottom of the jar, lending all beautiful colors and flavor to the oil. A good chili oil is not necessarily spicy, but has great smoky, nutty and umami flavors, with a good hint of heat.
We discovered that this chili oil is such a versatile and addictive condiment that will add a welcome kick of heat and flavor to almost anything you cook. This is one recipe we absolutely love and can’t live without now a days, and we are sure you can’t either!!
Resist the urge to buy that store bought chili oil, and make your very own in just a matter of a few minutes. The love at first sight to that beautiful red hue is instant. Trust me on that…
Chili Oil, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 1.5 cups canola oil
- 4 star anis
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 6-7 cardamom pods
- 1/2 cup Gochugaro Korean chili powder
- 3 Tbsp red chili flakes
- 2 tsp salt
- Dry roast star anis, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamoms, Sichuan peppercorns in a pan over medium high heat for a few minutes until they are fragrant. Make sure not to burn them.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles start to appear and the oil is hot. Add in all your spice aromatics like star anis, cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and Sichuan peppercorns. Simmer it gently for 10 minutes. Keep an close eye on your oil, so as not to burn the aromatics. There should be slow bubbles coming from the aromatics all the time.
- In a sturdy, heat proof bowl or jar mix the Koran chili peppers and regular chili flakes, along with salt. Now pour the oil over the chili flakes through a strainer, so as to strain the aromatics out of oil. The oil will bubble when it hits the chili flakes.
- Let it settle a bit, then stir the chili flakes and oil together to distribute the heat of the oil evenly. Allow the chili oil to cool before storing.
- Add couple of star anis and cinnamon stick back to the oil container to retain the beautiful spice aroma to the oil.
- Store it at room temperature in an air tight container jar with a seal lid. Keep it in a cool, dry place in your pantry.
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