Saturday, August 23, 2014

Szechuan Chili Oil

If there is one condiment I would never share with anyone, it is chili oil.

Perhaps it is the reason why we love to go to Duck King so much, simply because the chili oil is great, if not wonderful. The best one I've had so far was at a small restaurant I used to go to when I was still doing office work. Heck it was a long time ago I already forget the name of the place and sadly it was replaced by Starbucks. Anyhow, I would refuse to go to a Chinese restaurant with average chili oil even when the dish is so stellar compared to Duck King. Chili oil makes a simple dish heavenly, I think.

I actually never bother to make my own chili oil because Duck King is only 10 minutes away from home. Not until yesterday.

My friend sent me a bunch of Szechuan peppercorn. It is quite hard to find it where I live. I have never cooked with it before, but I love the dishes that incorporate those particular peppercorns in. Having so much in my disposal, I immediately think of Mapo Tofu, Bon Bon Chicken, vegetable stir-fries, and many other Szechuan inspired dishes. But no, they have to wait far in line because Baby I am gonna make you sweat! With chili oil.

Adapted from
Infused Oil:
1 litre vegetable oil
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 whole garlic
3 inch ginger, the fatter the better
3 tbs coriander seeds
6 star anise
2 tbs green cardamom

Ground Chili:
225 gr dried chili
1/4-1/2 cup Szechuan peppercorns
3 tsp salt
3 tbs soy sauce

-Bruise all the spices for the infused oil
-In a heavy bottomed pot, pour the oil, put the bruised ingredients in, then simmer on low heat for at least two hours.
**You want the garlic and the ginger just to fizz, not burn, not even brown.

-Place the dried chili on a pan and bake it in the oven for around 10 minutes on 150C. 

**This step is actually optional but definitely sane. If you buy your dried chili in a traditional market, chances are they do not keep it in tight container. So you wanna get rid of any ants or whatever living being lives there. It adds extra smokiness as well.
-Grind the chili and peppercorns. You don't want it to be too coarse or too fine it turns into powder.

-Place your ground chili in a big bowl, use either glass or stainless bowl, Mix the salt and soy sauce in.

After two hours.....
-Prepare a sieve
-Crank the heat up and let the ginger and the garlic furiously fizz.
-Pour the infused oil through the sieve. Be careful, it sizzles. 

Stir and let cool..

I am out of words.

It looks.. Demonic.. and judging from the time it took me to infuse the oil with that amount of spices, I'm not surprised that it is tantalizingly addictive. It is chili oil not like the one I've ever had. It has depth and character. It can even turn a humble instant noodle to a five star noodle dish. Toss it on your dumplings, on dim sum, on meat, on veggies, oh the endless possibilities!

If you're feeling crafty for the next holiday season, buy small mason jars and fill them with your own homemade Szechuan Chili Oil. Lovely gifts they would make. 

Okay, off I go now tossing some oil on poached eggs.

Have fun making it,

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