If you're crazy about spicy foods like I am, you might benefit from making your own chili oil. While regular chili oil is super easy and cheap to make at home, I prefer the more dramatic flavors of Chiu Chow chili oil. It spices up noodle dishes, can be used in stir-fries and is a must in Sichuanese cuisine. The stuff you pick up at the Asian market is usually filled with preservatives, or in the case of Lee Kum Kee, an insane amount of salt (which also acts as a preservative).
Chili oil is basically oil infused with chili to impart that smoky, spicy taste to the oil. Traditional chili oil is filtered to remove the dregs such that the resulting infusion is clear and light. Chiu chow chili oil is slightly different from the traditional chili oil in that it usually contains a mixture of chillies, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. You can use both the infused oil and the dregs in cooking. I personally use the oil for stir-frying and the dregs I eat it as a condiment to pho and wonton soup. I have it in my pantry all the time and have basically substituted this for the artificial pastiness of Sriracha.
To avoid botulism and the various incapacitating hazards that go with infusing oils, I strongly suggest using dried ingredients and making sure you avoid getting any of the ingredients or tools wet while you are making this. This recipe is really easy to remember - it uses a 1:3 system. It also keeps for a long time, so you can make a big jar of it and use it for lightning quick chili fixes.
Chiu Chow Chili Oil
Makes about 250g.
1/2 cup peanut oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons dried chili flakes
3 tablespoons fried onions, crushed with the back of a spoon into fine crumbles
1 tablespoon dried garlic granules
3 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
Heat the peanut oil and sesame oil in a pan over very low heat for about 6 - 7 minutes. Your oil should be hot but not smoking or boiling. You don't want to scorch your chilies.
Assemble all the remaining ingredients in a CLEAN, DRY glass bottle. Pour the hot oil over the chili mixture, mix gently with and let stand until cool. Seal tightly and leave at room temperature for three days. And on the third day, chiu chow chili oil is made! Make sure to use a clean, dry spoon every time you use your chili oil - the chili oil should keep for up to two months at room temperature.