The day I made my own hot chili oil, I swear I grew a foot as a cook! Not at all difficult and eminently satisfying, I recommend this recipe to any aspiring cook. Like grinding and brewing your own coffee after a lackluster life of instant, the sheer flavor and freshness of this chili oil will knock your socks off.

As with everything we cook with chili at China Moon Cafe, our chili oil aims for flavor as well as heat. This is an oil with taste, not merely fire.

The oil is only as good as the sum of its parts. Use a good-quality corn or peanut oil, a rich-smelling Japanese sesame oil, and red chili flakes that are bitingly fragrant. Once made, store this kitchen treasure in an impeccably clean glass jar or plastic container and keep it in a cool (though not refrigerated) place.

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Ingredients

  • cup shockingly pungent dried red chili flakes
  • cup Chinese fermented black beans (do not rinse them), coarsely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • cups corn or peanut oil
  • cup Japanese sesame oil

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a heavy, non-aluminum 2- to 2½-quart saucepan. Rest a deep-fry thermometer on the rim of the pot. Over moderately low heat, bring the mixture to a bubbly 225° to 250°F, stirring occasionally. Let simmer for 15 minutes, checking to ensure the temperature does not rise. Remove from the heat and let stand until cool or overnight.
  2. Scrape the oil and solids into an impeccably clean glass or plastic container. Store at cool room temperature.
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