Chile oil, a versatile flavoring ingredient that can be used in both hot and cold dishes, is made by infusing dried red chiles in vegetable oil. It is a great way to kick up the spicy heat level in a dish. Although available commercially, a homemade version will be hotter and has a far superior flavor. This Sichuan version of the chile oil from Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking is a must for your pantry.
- ½ cup Sichuan peppercorns
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- 1 1-inch-lomg piece fresh ginger
- 2 scallions
- 2 tablespoons whole cloves
- 1 1-inch square cassia bark
- 4 whole star anise
- 2 black cardamom
- 2 cups dried whole red chiles
- ¼ cup crushed Chinese red chile flakes
- 2 tablespoons Chinese red chile powder
- Soak the Sichuan peppercorns in the oil for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil and peppercorns over low heat to about 250°F (120°C). Add the ginger, scallions, cloves, cassia bark, star anise, black cardamom, and dried whole red chiles. Simmer in the oil for about 20 minutes.
- Put the red chili flakes and powder in a heat-proof 3-quart bowl. Strain the oil through a wire-mesh strainer into the bowl. Discard the strained spices. Let the oil steep overnight before using.
- Both the oil and the chili flakes can be used in recipes. Store in a covered glass jar for up to a year.