Chili oil is one of the pantry staples I always keep in my kitchen. I consider it a cheater ingredient because a few drops of it can make almost any dish taste immediately better. These days, you can find high-quality chili oil produced in small batches, but this homemade oil is inexpensive to make and you can guarantee maximum freshness. The process may seem intimidating at first, but once you’ve tried it out, you’ll be surprised by how straightforward it is and that it takes less than ten minutes to make.
NOTE : To test the oil temperature without a thermometer, add a thin slice of ginger to the oil. When the ginger starts to wither and turn golden brown, immediately turn off the heat. Remove and discard the ginger. This method may not always be accurate depending on your stove, so for a more accurate result, use a thermometer.
- 4 tablespoons Sichuan chili flakes
- 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 whole star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable oil (or grapeseed oil)
- NOTE : To test the oil temperature without a thermometer, add a thin slice of ginger to the oil. When the ginger starts to wither and turn golden brown, immediately turn off the heat. Remove and discard the ginger. This method may not always be accurate depending on your stove, so for a more accurate result, use a thermometer.
- Add the chili flakes, five-spice, sesame seeds, Sichuan pepper, star anise, and bay leaves to a heat proof ceramic bowl that can hold at least 2 cups (480 ml) of liquid. Place the bowl on a heat-resistant coaster or trivet.
- In a small skillet or saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 370°F (190°C) and no higher than 400°F (205°C). Remove from the heat immediately.
- Carefully pour the oil or use a ladle to transfer it into the bowl of mixed spices. The oil will bubble for a few seconds and cook the spices. While the oil is bubbling, use a metal spoon to gently stir the spices so that they cook thoroughly.
- Once the oil has cooled a bit, scoop out and discard the star anise and bay leaves. The oil is now ready to use; its flavor will mature if you let it rest for a day, allowing the spices to infuse into the oil.
- Store the oil in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.