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Chili Oil

Chili oil makes everything savory taste better! Even if you don't think it needs it, it makes it taste better. Everything from noodles to wontons to steamed eggs! Once you make up a batch just right, store in the refrigerator and whip out to add to...everything!

I have to admit that I never paid much attention to chili oil until I worked in the Asian restaurant at work. Our chili oil was AMAZING! I've looked at many recipes and know that many will cringe at my recipe because it is not pure or authentic but it is SO tasty so I don't care. I didn't remember the exact measurements of the one at work but I did remember most of the ingredients so working with that I made my own.

We love it and hope you do too. I am giving you two options. Again, I know some will gasp at my method and lack of authenticity. Oh well, you don't have to try it if you feel that strongly about it. Recipes call for genuine Chinese sichuan pepper flakes which promises a bright red color. I used that for one version but also found through experimenting that using Korean pepper flakes (gasp!) yields a milder, more fragrant but equally delicious chili oil. Second gasp (!) I don't discard all of the aromatics used to infuse the oil. I like to add some to the chili flakes and use and immersion blender to blend them up to add texture and flavor to the solids. And third gasp (oh no, can we handle it!!?) I like to add a bit of soy sauce and vinegar to the final oil for just a bit extra flavor. I hope you try making both of my versions and love them both as much as we do.

*If you are unfamiliar with some of the ingredients, see my ingredient section for descriptions and photos.

Chili Oil

Ingredients (makes 1 pint/ 2 cups)

Chili Oil

1 3/4 cups neutral oil (peanut, vegetable, canola)

1 Tablespoon szechuan peppercorns

1 Tablespoon fermented black beans

1 Tablespoon ginger, grated

2-3 garlic cloves, cut in half

2-3 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup chili flakes, (Chinese sichuan chili flakes OR Korean gochugaru chili flakes)

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon black vinegar (or rice vinegar)


candy thermometer

blender or immersion stick blender

fine mesh sieve


Place chili flakes in a heat proof bowl and leave on the side (a 4 cup glass Pyrex measuring cup works great!). In a saucepan add everything except for the chili flakes. Place a candy thermometer in the oil mixture and turn on the heat to medium. Bring mixture up to 225°F. If you have a simmer burner, move the pot there for the remainder of the time and turn heat to low.

Set timer for 45 minutes and maintain the temperature between 220°F-224°F. It should maintain a steady stream of tiny bubbles. I don't suggest leaving so you could check on the temperature. It will smell amazing.

Around 30 minutes check to make sure the garlic is not burning. It should not burn at this low temperature but if it starts turning too brown fish it out and move it to the bowl with the chili flakes. At 45 minutes, turn off heat and pour the oil through a fine meshed sieve and onto the chili flakes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the mixture and mix.

Here is where you could deviate from my recipe. At this point I like to remove the star anise, cinnamon stick and bay leaves but put all or some of the other solids into the chili oil mixture and blend it either in a blender or with an immersion stick blender. You don't have to blend it fine to a paste or an emulsion, just so it is a bit less chunky.

Add the soy sauce and vinegar and let cool. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Before using, bring out to let come back to room temp. We enjoy using it as a condiment as well as an ingredient. Try the solids as well as just the plain oil!

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