Learn how to make Chinese chili oil (Chinese chili sauce), the essential seasoning for lots of Chinese cuisine, especially Szechuan style dishes. And Elaine gets the secrets of making the perfect Chinese chili oil with strong enough flavor and bright red color.
Chinese chili oil is also called red oil in China. It is a combined seasoning using red pepper, Sichuan peppercorn, mixed spices, ginger and toasted sesame seeds. High temperature oil is usually used to stimulate the strong aroma of red pepper powder. But meanwhile, it brings dark red color instead of bright red color. We will add red pepper powder by two batches, poured over by oil of different temperatures. High temperature oil can simulate the strong aroma while lower temperature oil brings us the bright red color.
Traditionally people in Sichuan first toast red peppers and then break them by hand using a stone grinder. But now we directly buy red pepper powders from the supermarket and this homemade Chinese chili oil can be finished within 10 minutes.
About the spices
In Sichuan cuisine, spices play important roles. If you visit a Sichuan style restaurant selling Chongqing noodles, they use lots of spices in the hot oil. It is ok to skip some of the spices but at least you need to prepare ginger, bay leaves, scallion white, star anise, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorn, and cloves.
Place around 5 tablespoons of red pepper powder in a bowl.
Heat the spices in oil over the slowest fire for around 5 minutes until the scallion white becomes slightly brown and you can smell the strong aroma. Filter all the spices out and leave the oil in the pot.
Re-heat the oil in the pot until slightly smoky and then pour half of the hot oil over the red pepper powder.
There will be large bubbles this time.
Add another 2 tablespoons of red pepper powder, 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seed and 1/4 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn in the bowl. Rest the left oil for around 3 minutes and pour the left half oil again.
The red oil will turn bright red after 24 hours.
Keep the chili oil in air-tight container and this can be kept up to one month in room temperature.
This chili oil can be directly used in following recipes.
- red oil wonton
- Poached Chicken with Chili Sauce (Saliva Chicken)
- Bon Bon Chicken
- Chinese coriander salad
- Dan Dan Noodles
- 7 tablespoons red pepper powder
- 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
- ¼ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn
- 1 cup vegetable oil or ½ cup more for adjusting
- 1 thumb ginger (must)
- 2 bay leaves (must)
- 3 star anise (must)
- 1 bark Chinese cinnamon
- 3 scallion whites (must)
- ¼ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn (must)
- 4 cloves
- ¼ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- ⅛ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 Amomum tsao-ko (Cao Guo)
- 3 amomum kravanh (White Dou Kou)
- Heat the spices in oil over the slowest fire for around 5 minutes until the scallion white becomes slightly brown and you can smell the strong aroma. Filter all the spices out and leave the oil in the pot.
- Place around 5 tablespoons of red pepper powder in a bowl.
- Re-heat the oil in the pot until slightly smoky and then pour half of the hot oil over the red pepper powder. Rest the left oil for 5 minutes.
- Add another 2 tablespoons of red pepper powder, 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seed and ¼ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn in the bowl. Pour the left half oil again.