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.
Sichuan Spiced Chile Oil (四川辣油)
- ½ cup Sichuan peppercorns
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- 1 fresh ginger about 1-inch long
- 2 scallions
- 2 tablespoons cloves
- 1 cassia bark about 1-inch square
- 4 star anise
- 2 black cardamom
- 2 cups dried red chiles
- ¼ cup 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.