Chilli oil is an essential condiment used in Chinese cuisine used to flavour noodles, dumplings, soups, salads and vegetables. Although we are not Chinese, we have sampled many of these oils in small food stalls around Shanghai. Being the foodies we are, it is logical for us to reproduce the best of the best and share it with you!
Don’t think of Chinese chilli oil as just hot and spicy, but rather as ‘spiced.’ This traditional oil is made from a combination of fragrant ingredients to excite the palate. Chilli oil is available in shops but when making your own you have the option to add preferred natural flavours, such as ginger as well as other herbs and spices, meaning you are sure of no unhealthy additives, food colouring or preservatives. Store in the fridge for as long as needed but we recommend making small batches to consume within one month.
What are the most important ingredients for chilli oil
Oil is the base of this recipe, and it is important to warm it at the right temperature to get the most flavour from the spices. A cold temperature will not extract enough flavour while overheating will burn the ingredients and leave a bitter taste.
Although there are a lot of elements that make this oil special, Sichuan pepper flakes are the most obvious. These not only add spice to the oil, but it also has a unique fragrance.
It is important to follow all the steps correctly to produce the perfect oil.
Chinese Chilli Oil
- Use a skillet over a medium to heat fry the shallots, garlic, cinnamon and star anise in the oil until golden brown. Strain the golden shallots and garlic, discard the cinnamon and star anise and keep this fragrant oil aside.
- Toast the white sesame seeds over a low heat until light brown, keep aside.
- Toast the sichuan pepper for 3 minutes, then add the cumin seeds and continue cooking for 2 minutes until fragrant. Allow to cool and grind the Sichuan pepper and cumin seeds to a powder.
- Combine the powder with the toasted sesame seeds.
- Finally, add the chilli flakes, salt, ginger, soy sauce, oil, fried shallots and garlic to the sesame seeds.
- Pour the fragrant oil over it and transfer in a container with a lid.
- Do not overcook the shallots and garlic, the taste will turn bitter and spoil the chilli oil.