Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sichuan Chili Oil (四川辣椒油)

Before I had visited the Sichuan Province, I never gave chili oil much thought. The only chili oil I had ever used was the typical store bought, bottled kind. I thought the taste was just plain hot oil, and not much flavor. Now I know how different chili oils can be from brand to brand, and from region to region. This is the kind I prefer because of the depths of flavors it imparts, and honestly the nutty taste is so fragrant that the smell makes you think you could just scoop up a spoon and take a bite. I like to use it many ways, and it's an essential item for anyone cooking a true tasting Sichuan dish, because this one truly imparts all the flavors from the region.

Sichuan Chili Oil


2 cups canola oil*

1 Tbsp salt

1 stick of cinnamon, broken and crushed

4 star anise pods

1 whole cardamom crushed

1/2 tsp whole cloves crushed

4 slices smashed ginger

6 cloves of smashed garlic

3 Tbsp numbing peppercorns (crushed)

8 Tbsp chili flakes (ground, or crushed)

1 Tbsp chili powder

3 Tbsp peanuts

1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds

1 cup sesame oil


1. Pour the canola oil in a pan or wok, and heat until just before it starts to smoke.

2. Add the salt, cinnamon, anise, cardamom, and cloves to the oil, and let them fry until they are fragrant.

3. Add the ginger and garlic, and fry until they just start to burn.

4. Remove the oil from heat, cool off, and then strain the oil.

5 .Return the oil to the heat again, and add the numbing peppercorns, and chili flakes,
and fry until the temperature reaches at least 225°F (107.25°C). The chili's will become a deep red, almost burgundy color.

6 .Add the chili powder, peanuts, sesame seeds, and the sesame oil, and turn off the heat, and let it rest for 24 hours in a glass jar.

7. You now have Sichuan chili paste/oil. Use it as a condiment, or as an oil for cooking.

Cooks Helpful Hints:

The oil has to be brought up to the correct temperature for it to release the flavors.
Too hot and it will burn the chillies, too cool and the flavour of the spices will not be released.

The reason I remove the first few herbs is because I like to use the chili and peanuts mixture, as well as the oil.
Removing them after their essence has been infused into the oil allows you to do this.

Sesame seeds, and sesame oil, and peanuts makes this different than some chili oils, but the nutty taste adds another flavor depth.


* Canola oil has a smoking point of about 470°F (243°C)

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