Chinese chili oil is a great companion to Asian dishes, but also peps up other foods with its spiciness and complex flavour. It is easy to make and can be stored in a dark place at room temperature for up to 6 months. As a rule, oils should not be stored in the refrigerator.
We use a relatively small amount of chili and only a little Szechuan pepper here. Although we like to eat spicy food, we want to add flavour with the oil and keep the spiciness controllable. There are recipes with up to twice the amount of chilli used here, or even just Szechuan pepper, which is not our cup of tea. Feel free to try it with more of it.
First, chili flakes, Szechuan pepper and a little salt are mixed together. Add white sesame seeds, which have been gently toasted in a pan until they begun to smell fragrant. For more colour, a small amount of paprika powder can be added optionally (we only point to this in case you find your oil less colourful than the commercial products – it doesn’t add anything to the taste).
So that we do not have to handle so much hot oil later, we divide this mixture into sufficiently large, heat-resistant containers. We now also add two teaspoons each of the cold oil and mix this thoroughly. This little oil will later protect the spices from too much heat shock that could impair their taste.
Heat the remaining oil until a wooden stick dipped in it forms bubbles. We use a wok for this, but it works just as well in a pot.
We now add quartered and fanned out onion as well as sliced ginger and garlic to this oil. The ginger does not need to be peeled.
Immediately we turn down the temperature and let simmer on gentle heat for 15 minutes. We are interested in extracting flavour, not cooking quickly. On our induction cooker, level 3 of 10 is right for this.
After this time, we add more spices: star anise, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon bark and fennel seeds. To be able to remove the seeds easily later, we simply put them in a small sieve that we place in the oil.
All of this now continues to simmer over a low heat until these ingredients have turned golden brown but not black. We left this for around 40 minutes. Important again: The heat must not be too high. If your ingredients cook too quickly, add a little cold oil and/or turn off the heat. It is better to let the ingredients rest longer in the oil as it gets colder than to take them out too quickly.
The spice oil is now heated again to the initial temperature, i.e. until a wooden stick forms bubbles in it. Then the hot oil is slowly and carefully poured over the chili-sesame mixture with a ladle. This bubbles and foams quite considerably. Wait briefly after each ladle until the mixture has cooled slightly.
When the oil has cooled completely, your containers can be sealed. After just one day, the oil will have a great taste and colour.
And may the taste be with you.
Ingredients (for 500 ml):
500 ml neutral vegetable oil (germ oil)
45 g chili flakes
5 g Szechuan pepper
(if you like it very hot, you can double the amount of chili and pepper)
Optional, just for colour: 1 tsp paprika powder
20 g roasted white sesame seeds
2 star anise
2 – 4 bay leaves (depending on size)
1 cardamom pod (typically black, otherwise green)
1 piece of cinnamon bark
1 tsp fennel seeds
4 cm ginger
2 cloves of garlic