Sichuan Chili Oil

The hallmark of Sichuan chili oil is a balance between la—the concentrated heat from dried chiles—and ma—the numbing effect of Sichuan peppercorns. Blooming the aromatics (ginger, bay leaves, star anise, and cardamom) in vegetable oil brought out their flavor and built a pungent base. This hot oil was then poured over the chili powder, which helped build a deep, savory toasted chili flavor.
Photo by Lil B.

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

1.5

servings

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

1.5

servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2

    cup Asian chili powder

  • 2

    tablespoons sesame seeds

  • 2

    tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, crushed

  • 1/2

    teaspoon salt

  • 1

    cup vegetable oil

  • 1

    (1-inch) piece ginger, unpeeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds and smashed

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 3

    star anise pods

  • 5

    green cardamom pods, crushed

Directions

Asian chili powder is similar to hot red pepper flakes but is milder and more finely ground. A Sichuan chili powder is preferred, but Korean red pepper flakes, called gochugaru, are a good alternative. Place chili powder, sesame seeds, half of peppercorns, and salt in heatproof bowl. Heat oil, ginger, bay leaves, star anise, cardamom pods, and remaining peppercorns in small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spices have darkened and mixture is very fragrant, 25 to 30 minutes. Strain oil mixture through fine-mesh strainer into bowl with chili powder mixture (mixture may bubble slightly); discard solids in strainer. Stir well to combine. Once cool, transfer mixture to airtight container and let stand for at least 12 hours before using. (Oil can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week or refrigerated for up to 3 months.)

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