Another post courtesy of my husband! If there’s something that he’s an authority on (besides Lord of the Rings), it’s spicy food. He’s a spicy food fiend and wants to share one of his favorite flaming hot recipes with you. Enjoy!
Tonight I am going to teach you how to make hot chili oil. It’s actually very easy. You can buy hot chili oil (or chili paste) in the store, but they can range quite a bit in consistency, ingredients, and flavor. I have purchased a few in the past and they have ranged from heavily seasoned oil that tastes like cumin and chili powder to basically what amounts to red sesame oil with little heat and no taste of chili pepper.
Strangely, some of the best tasting chili oil I have had was in our college dining hall (though, it was not very spicy so I had to use about half the bottle every time. Sorry dining services!).
Because I like to control the spices and sauces of my stir fries each time I make them (depending on my mood, sometimes I prefer to make them sweet with teriyaki, or salty with soy sauce, or a combination of the two), I like my chili oil as plain as possible. And by plain I don’t mean bland or flavorless! I just like it to have ONLY the taste of chili peppers, and no added spices.
For that reason, I simply take some oil and infuse it with dried chili peppers.
I have used both canola oil and vegetable oil in the past, depending on what is in the house, and I can’t tell the difference in the taste. You may certainly use any oil you like, or a mixture of a few. I’m not crazy for sesame oil, but you can certainly use that if you love it, or you can use a mixture of about 3/4 veg/canola oil and 1/4 sesame oil for a hint of sesame. I usually use my chili oil in Asian food, but some people like to use it in Italian food. If you plan to use yours in Italian food, I would recommend either mild olive oil or a mixture of half canola/veg oil and half extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil taste complements Italian food better, but you don’t want to use all EVOO because it tends to add a slight bitterness. Don’t worry about mixing oils with different flash points and all of that mess because this cooks on very low heat, nowhere near frying temperature.
Tonight, I’ll be using veggie oil because that’s what we have in the house. I will also be using dried Thai chiles, but, again, you can use any kind of dried pepper you like, or a combination. I have used chiles de arbol in the past, as well as habanero. Thai chiles are very spicy, but of course, you can also vary the amount of peppers you use to decrease or increase the heat level. I tend to use about half as many cups of peppers as oil. This results in a robust chili flavor but gives you enough extra room in the jar later on to spoon out the oil without any of the pepper pieces if you don’t want them.
3/4 cup of oil of your choice
1/3 cup of dried peppers of your choice
This makes enough chili oil to keep in a small jar.
Pour oil into small pan or sauce pot.
Heat on low heat for a few minutes. I tend to put our stove on level 2 (out of 10).
Crush the dried peppers as finely as you would like. All that matters is that the peppers are broken open so that the spicy membranes on the inside are exposed to the oil. Sometimes I grind them in the spice grinder resulting in a fine powder, other times I just crumble them in my hands (this gives you nice crunchy pieces of peppers to use in your dishes later on). Tonight, I crumbled them. Please remember safe handling instructions for hot peppers! Dried peppers are not any friendlier to the eye than fresh peppers. If you are going to crumble by hand, wash your hands thoroughly afterward or wear gloves.
Once you are done, simply put the crushed chiles into the heated oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
You want to keep the oil between 130 and 140 degrees. Too high, and the chiles will actually cook and toast. This can happen in only seconds if the heat is too high. Remember, you just want to infuse the flavors and heat of the chiles into the oil, you don’t want to fry the peppers. You might want to cook with the oil later on and if the chiles are already fried, they will get burnt to a crisp the second time.
When the time is up, it is best to remove the entire pan from heat and set it in a safe place. Remember, it is full of hot oil! It might not be bubbling, but you can still burn yourself if you splash it. That is why I recommend letting it cool before you try to pour it into a jar or other container.
The oil will last a few weeks at room temperature and much longer if you refrigerate it (though it tends to coagulate in the fridge). I leave mine out on the counter because I use it so often!
You can top dishes with it at the table, you can sautee vegetables or minced garlic and ginger in it to start off your stir fries, you can marinate meat in it, you can just spoon out the oil without the bits of peppers if you want, or you can use both. It’s just spicy and delicious oil! Use it however you like and enjoy!!!
Thanks for reading!