Red chili oil（红油 – hong you – hohng yoh – “red oil”）is a red-colored, chili infused oil (duh). It’s used mostly in Sichuan cuisine, but also maybe in other Chinese cuisines. Red oil is mostly used in “cold-mixed” (liang ban) dishes. Cooked meat or vegetables (sometimes vegetables are raw; if cooked, they are al dente) are cooled to room temperature or refrigerated, then mixed with seasonings. This is also used in the Sichuan cold noodles recipe I will be sharing next. You MUST make your own red oil – the bottled ones at Chinese supermarkets are flavored, too spicy, and have no chili flakes at the bottom.
WARNING: DO NOT BURN YOURSELF!!!!! THIS IS DANGEROUS!!!!!
1 cup peanut, corn, canola, grapeseed, “vegetable” (soybean), extra light olive, or other oil that has neutral flavor
2 tbsp crushed red chili pepper flakes (the stuff Americans sprinkle on pizza) (I use 2 tbsp because the one I have from Costco is ridiculously spicy when combined with oil.) (This will make the chili oil very spicy but standable for people who like some spiciness. If you do not like it spicy, use only 3-4 tbsp Korean hot pepper. If you like it mild, decrease the amount of the crushed red pepper flakes.)
2 tbsp Korean coarse hot pepper powder (for kimchi)
1 or 2 points from a star anise (not whole star anise, which will be too strong)
1/2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed coarsely in a mortar (you may increase to 1 tbsp for a chili oil that is both very la and ma)
1 small piece (1/2 inch long or so) ginger with peel, smashed with side of knife
Some people add more spices. If you like, add 1 tsp five spice powder to the chili flakes.
Wok or small pot
Put crushed red chili flakes and Korean coarse hot pepper powder, as well as crushed Sichuan peppercorns, and the star anise point, in the mug. Put the metal spoon in the mug and stir. Put the mug on top of a heatproof saucer.
Open the windows of your house.
Put oil in a wok or small pot. Add ginger, then heat over high heat.
The ginger will start sizzling and bubbling. Once the bottom side starts to brown and sizzles more, drop a whole Sichuan peppercorn into the oil. If it floats soon and bubbles form, use a shallow ladle to ladle a little oil into the mug. If it sizzles and fizzes a lot, turn off the heat.
TIP: If oil is too hot, chilies will burn too much. If too cold, chilies’ flavor will not infuse. Don’t worry, experience will make you better at this. Another way to tell if it is hot enough is to insert a wooden chopstick into the oil. It is hot when a lot of bubbles form. The oil’s surface will also ripple when it is hot, but it may be hard to see this. Also, when you can smell the oil strongly and it is very smoky, it is a little too hot so turn off the heat and wait a minute or so but not too long.
Ladle all the oil one ladle at a time into the cup, stirring once a while. Discard the ginger.
Also, it is recommended to stir-fry a vegetable or other dish in the wok right after as it is coated with oil. 🙂
WARNING: DO NOT SPILL ANY OIL!!!!!! VERY DANGEROUS AND HOT!!!!!!!!!!!
Stir well. BE CAREFUL NOT TO TOUCH ANY OIL!!! AFTER STIRRING, DO NOT TOUCH THE SPOON AGAIN BECAUSE IT WILL BECOME VERY HOT!!! MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT TOUCH THE MUG EITHER!!!!!!!!!!!
Wait a few hours. DO NOT TOUCH THE MUG OR SPOON UNTIL COLD!!!
Once cool, cover the mug with a small square of aluminum foil. Leave the spoon in the mug to scoop and stir the oil.
Before measuring the oil, stir well because measurements in recipes include the chili flakes at the bottom.