Made with hot chile peppers, chili oil is the secret ingredient in many Szechuan dishes. Besides its use in cooking, chili oil (also called hot chili oil or pepper oil) is frequently served as a condiment in dim sum or noodle restaurants. Like all hot oil infusions, the secret to making chili oil lies in getting the temperature of the heated oil just right. Too cool and the oil wont absorb the flavors; too hot and the chili flakes will burn. Ideally, the temperature should be about 225 240 degrees Fahrenheit (107 to 122.5 degrees Celsius). For best results, use peanut or canola oil. You can also use olive oil if desired; just make sure it has a high enough smoking point. (Steer clear of extra virgin olive oil).
This is a basic recipe for chili oil. Once youve got the technique down, feel free to jazz it up by adding garlic, ginger, cumin, sugar or other spices. To make it even hotter, add more dried chiles or reduce the oil to 1/3 cup. The chili oil can be used almost immediately, but for best results leave the oil for a day to allow the flavors to blend.
Chili Oil Ingredients
10 12 small dried chilies (1 2 inches long) to make 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped chili flakes
1/2 cup peanut, canola, or olive oil.
1 tablespoon sesame oil, optional