Making Hong You #2: Crispy Shallot Chili Oil
Homemade Lao Gan Ma~~
My pursuit of the perfect chili oil leads me to the conclusion that there is not just one. I like a pure, chili-flavored chili oil for most cooking, but after consuming so much Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp and similarly fancy artisan chili oils I bought from a street vendor in Sichuan, I’ve decided I need to up my game with homemade chili oils. So here I give you Crispy Shallot Chili Oil. It packs a ton of flavor, but still not so much that it can’t be used widely and heavily on foods both Asian and Western.
It’s in the style of Spicy Chili Crisp, but without the secret ingredients, the MSG or the preservatives. Plus, it has a greater oil-to-solids ratio so that it can be used when chili oil is called for. The key is the sweet crispy shallots married with mala flavor—chili flakes and Sichuan pepper.
Here’s what to gather for this recipe:
- Coarse-ground chili flakes. The closest you can usually get in the U.S. to Sichuan’s bright-red, medium-hot, almost-seedless chili flakes is Korean coarse-ground red pepper powder.
- Peanut oil, preferably made in China or Taiwan, as theirs have more flavor than American peanut oil.
- Sichuan peppercorns, dry toasted in a pan until fragrant. Grind to a coarse powder in a spice or coffee grinder and sift out most of the yellow-husk bits.
Updated April 2016
- 2 cups peanut oil or canola oil (or mix of peanut oil and canola oil)
- ½ cup coarsely ground chili flakes (Sichuan or Korean coarse red pepper powder)
- ⅓ cup finely diced shallot
- 1 tablespoon ground, roasted Sichuan pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- ¼ cup sesame oil
- Put chili flakes, Sichuan pepper and salt in a heat-proof glass pint jar with a tight-fitting lid.
- Heat oil in a small sauce pan on a medium-low flame until a test bit of shallot sizzles when it hits the oil. Add all shallots to the oil and fry slowly until they are golden brown, which should take several minutes. Watch closely, and do not burn them.
- When flakes are nicely golden, immediately pour them and their oil into the jar on top of the chili flakes. (If your pan does not have a pour spout, transfer first to a glass measuring cup that does.) The oil should be at the correct temperature to lightly toast the chili flakes, which should sizzle a bit when the oil hits them. Let calm, then stir the oil to mix the ingredients. Leave to cool, then add sesame oil and mix well. Cool completely before capping with lid. Flavors are best after they have had a couple days to infuse.