Chinese Chili Oil Recipe: Simple To Make, Goes On Everything
This oil is so delicious! It can go on so many things: soup, avocado toast, stir-fry, burritos, roasted vegetables, etc. The recipe for one jar lasted the two of us just 6 days since we were putting it on everything.
THE OIL. The first time I tried to make Chinese chili oil, the oil didn't get hot enough, so the flavor was so-so. This time, I wanted to get specific on oil temperature. Oils have different smoke points and you don’t want to go over the smoke point because that’s when free radicals are released. Here are some smoke points of oil I would use for this type of recipe as per The Food Lab cookbook by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt:
avocado oil: 520F
olive oil, extra-virgin: 375-410F
olive oil, light: 425F
safflower oil: 510F
I went with olive oil because I prefer the flavor. Since I didn’t have light olive oil, I searched out another source to see what they reported about cooking with extra-virgin olive oil. Serious Eats reports the smoke point of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: 325-375°F. To be on the safe side, I went with heating the oil to 350F and the oil turned out perfect.
I also tried heating the oil at a lower temperature, 325F, but it wasn't as flavorful that time around. I like the brand California Olive Ranch First Cold Press, which was recommended by an Italian couple.
THE GARLIC. I'll use either regular garlic or Elephant garlic, which is milder in flavor, but larger in size; one clove of elephant garlic is about 4 cloves of regular garlic. The large size means you have less cloves to peel and the thick skin makes it easier to peel. It isn't as flaky and messy like it can be with regular garlic.
You can mince the garlic by hand, but using a small food processor is much easier especially if you're making a double batch.
THE CHILIES. You can use a bag of whole, dried chilies and grind them up in a food processor. After grinding it down, give it a minute to let the chili dust settle, otherwise it can get in your eyes and make you sneeze. It's easier to get dried chili flakes in the bulk section.
Adding the chili flakes and salt to the oil will lower the temperature by about 30-40 degrees, even just after a few seconds. Adding the garlic immediately after, at a slightly lower temperature, will retain more of its flavor.
10 grams = 1/8 cup chili flakes (you can use more or less, this amount makes the oil a medium spicy)
95 grams = 3.5 oz = 4 cloves = elephant garlic, minced
3.5 grams sea salt
205 grams = 7 fl. oz = 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
53 grams = 1 3/4 fl. oz. = toasted sesame oil
Prepare all dry ingredients, set aside.
In a medium pot, scale out oil. On a low-medium flame (you don’t want to bring the oil temperature up too quickly), use a digital thermometer, heat oil to 350F. Turn off the heat.
Keeping your face distant from the pot, stir in the chili flakes, sea salt, then the garlic last.
Cool completely and transfer to a jar with a lid. This recipe amount fit in the 13 oz jar I use after finishing off the Organic Ghee that came in it.
Optional: Once the oil is cooled down to room temperature, add a dash of sesame oil. Sesame oil loses its flavor when heated.
Now, each time I make this, I double the recipe (use a medium to large pot; the oil will rise once you add the chili flakes and garlic, so you want extra space). I keep one jar on the counter and it holds up fine for at least 1 week. We haven't kept it out for longer because we end up eating it within the week. I keep the second jar of oil in the refrigerator until I need it.