Chinese Hot Chili Oil
Learn how to make Chinese chili oil (Chinese chili sauce), the essential seasoning for lots of Chinese cuisines, especially Szechuan style dishes. Chinese chili oil is also called red oil in China. It is a combined seasoning using red pepper, Sichuan peppercorn, mixed spices, ginger and toasted sesame seeds.
1½ cups oil (ideally a vegetable, peanut, or grapeseed oil…light olive oil is fine, but it has a tendency to set in the fridge)
5 star anise
1 cinnamon stick, preferably cassia cinnamon
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
¾ cup Asian crushed red pepper flakes (Sichuan chili flakes are the best)
1 – 1½ teaspoons salt (to taste)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
Step 1: In a heat-proof bowl, measure out the crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and sesame seeds.
Step 2: Heat the oil, star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and Sichuan peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium high heat. When the oil starts to bubble slightly, turn the heat down to medium.
Step 3: Let the oil cook for 30 minutes like this. If you start to see that slight bubbling die down, periodically turn the heat back up to medium-high, then back down to medium if it gets too hot. When the oil is done cooking, the seeds and pods should be darker in color, but not blackened (that means they burned, which results in subpar chili oil). Let the oil cool for 5 minutes. Remove the aromatics from the oil using a strainer or a fine mesh strainer if you have one.
Step 4: Slowly pour the oil over the red chili flakes, and stir well.
When completely cooled, transfer to a jar, and store in the refrigerator. The hot chili oil will keep for up to 6 months when stored this way (always remember to use a clean spoon to dip into the jar!)