Sunday, April 25, 2010

How to make Chiu Chow Chili Oil

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.


Snorfle said...

Still not as hot as that vietnamese rooster sauce...eeeee

Sini Manner Voice said...

so that's how its done!!
i go through this stuff at an alarming rate - figured it was the MSG that got me craving
(literally, when I get a jar, I will often have it open on the kitchen bench with a spoon propped in it & take a hit in passing.. not to mention on the rice & chinese veg..)
just made some - double quantity - used hoisin sauce instead of soy - just abit sweeter, & less salt - & hey presto!!
tough that i have to wait three days though :(

Sini Manner Voice said..., always wondered what the magic component was - reckon it's those dried onions that make it such a yummy sticky chilli pleasure :)

Amanda said...

Sini: Your comments made my day! Haha, glad there's someone else who loves this chili stuff as much as I do.

koosh @ candidkoosh said...

when you include the onion how did you prepare it? DId you fry it in oil or dry I'm confused on that bit.

Amanda said...

@koosh I used store-bought fried onions and fried garlic (you can get it at any Asian store). You can also fry sliced shallots and garlic in vegetable oil until crisp and let cool before adding it.