Chilli oil is sometimes used as a dipping condiment as well as a seasoning and varies in strength and flavour. The Thai and Malaysian versions are especially hot; the Taiwanese and Chinese versions are more subtle. Chilli oil is too dramatic to be used as the sole cooking oil, so combine it with other milder oils. I include pepper and black beans in this recipe for additional flavours so that I can also use it as a dipping sauce. Once made, put the chilli oil in a tightly sealed glass jar and store in a cool dark place where it will keep for months.
Heat a wok or frying-pan over a high heat and add the oil. Continue to heat until the oil begins to smoke. Remove the wok or pan from the heat and add the chillies and peppercorns.
Allow the mixture to cool undisturbed and then pour it into a jar. Let the mixture sit for 2 days, and then strain the oil.
© 1996 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.