I get a lot of my cooking inspiration from Chinese cuisine, paired with my penchant for spicy food, chili oil is a staple ingredient that I incorporate into many recipes for some heat. Chinese people consider it essential and use it to elevate any dish: noodles, fried rice, cucumber salad, wontons, etc. You can pour it on everything! At a Chinese restaurant or home, chili oil (辣椒油) is as common as soy sauce. I highly recommend making your own because it tastes ten times better and has a nuttiness that you can't get from any store-bought bottle.
The idea of making your own chili oil may be daunting at first, but once you get the steps down it gets easier and it stores well. You are just five minutes away from the most delicious and fragrant chili oil that you will want to put on everything. Once you are done, be sure to pair this with my pickled smashed cucumber recipe!
1 1/2 cups oil (preferably vegetable oil)
3/4 cup crushed Sichuan chili flakes
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons 5 spice powder
5 star anise
3 tablespoons sichuan peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons salt for taste
1 thin slice of ginger (optional)
Combine chili flakes with aromatics in a heat-safe bowl (I suggest ceramic).
Over medium-high heat in a saucepan, bring the oil with aromatics to 375º F but no higher than 400º F. Be sure not to overheat the oil, or the chili oil will have a bitter taste. Test the oil temperature with a thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer you can use a thin slice of ginger and place it in the hot oil, once it turns a golden brown immediately turn off the heat.
Carefully pour the oil through a sift on top of chili flakes. The oil will bubble for a few seconds while the spices cook. Use a heat-safe spoon to stir so that the spices cook thoroughly.
Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds then put in oil.
Let the oil cool down and it is ready to use! If you let it sit for a day the spices will continue to infuse the oil.
The oil can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 6 months or up to two weeks at room temperature*