This Sichuan chilli oil – vegetable oil infused with spices, aromatics, chilli flakes, and Sichuan pepper, is a truly wonderful condiment. It enhances everything from soups to dumplings to pizza.
This is not just oil infused with chilli. It is way more complex. The spices, garlic, and ginger bring such a depth of flavour to the oil before infusing with chilli. I used Vietnamese sun-dried chilli flakes. Sichuan chilli flakes are preferred if you can get them. Korean or Thai would also work well.
It is not just the infused spices in this Sichuan chilli oil that sets this condiment apart from most others; it is the Sichuan peppercorns. What we get is the málà effect. Says Wikipedia: The term málà is a combination of two Chinese characters: “numbing” (麻) and “spicy (picant)” (辣), referring to the feeling in the mouth after eating the sauce.
I discovered Sichuan flavours’ wonders at a restaurant in Melbourne. Subsequent explorations of this amazing cuisine led me to want to start experimenting myself. The Bon Appétit web site has a great guide to making your own Sichuan chilli oil. This recipe is my implementation of that guide.
Chilli oils, as well as chilli jams, appear in many delectabilia recipes. I do love the edge that the addition of chilli and pepper can bring.
Sichuan chilli oil
- 200 g dried roughly ground chilli flakes
- 60 g freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 thumb fresh ginger
- 1 head garlic
- 5 star anise
- 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cardamon seeds
- 2 l neutral vegetable oil eg canola oil
- 1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
- In a large heat proof bowl, combine the chilli flakes, Sichuan pepper, and soy sauce.
- Dice the ginger (no need to remove the skin if it is clean).
- Halve the head of garlic. Remove loose flakes of skin. Crush a little under a knife.
- To a saucepan add the garlic, ginger, star anise, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, cardamon seeds, and the oil.
- Put the saucepan over a low heat. Once it heats up the garlic and ginger will be sizzling slightly.
- Maintain the temperature of the spices in the oil for 2 hours.
- Bring the heat up to high, then once the garlic and ginger are bubbling a lot, pour the infused oil through a fine strainer into the bowl of chilli and Sichuan pepper. It will smell good.
- Add the sesame oil to the bowl.
- Stir, allowing to infuse for 10 minutes, then pour into clean jars or bottles for long term storage.