Spicy, but not too spicy, full of flavor, great texture, vibrant color. The list of things that make chili crisp oil great is almost too long to count. This is a simple chili crisp that can be put on almost any food to make it more interesting and delicious
Homemade vs Store Bought
The most popular chili crisp oil on the market is by far lao gan ma. Before I made this recipe I always had a jar of this on hand. It’s spicy, sweet, salty, and umami-y. Truly a great tasting product.
But if you look at the ingredient list it’s mainly just oil, chili, sugar, salt, and msg. Nothing wrong with those ingredients, but there’s some opportunity to infuse some personality. I elected to add sichuan peppercorns, as well as garlic and anise.
Another big benefit is price. Even with all the extra flavors and spices I added, it still ended up using only about $3.50 worth of ingredients. When scaled with the amount of chili oil produced, homemade is half the price of storebought!
What chili should you use?
The easiest and safest option is definitely chinese chili flakes. You can find these in most asian grocery stores or online. I do not recommend using the crushed red pepper commonly found in American grocery stores. Those are usually already roasted, so they will burn when hot oil is poured over them. Alternative options are gochugaru (korean chili flakes), or buying/making whole dried chilis and grinding them yourself.
What to add in the oil?
Chili oil can be infused with a lot of different flavors. So instead of listing them all out i’ll tell you the proper ways to add different types of ingredients.
Whole spices should be infused in the oil and then strained out. Powdered spices tend to burn easily, so add any after the oil has cooled.
Fresh ingredients like garlic, scallion, ginger, and shallots should only be infused. Directly adding them to the oil will lower its shelf life considerably. Though I enjoy keeping the crispy fried garlic or shallots separately, and then adding them back into individual portions.
Strong flavored ingredients such as sesame oil, black vinegar, and soy sauce can be added to the oil directly with no negative effect on shelf life. But I prefer to omit these in the initial batch, and then combine them in individual servings depending on what I’m eating. That way I can still have pure chili oil whenever I want it, as well as a plethora of different flavor combinations.
Simple and Delicious Chili Oil
1 cup neutral oil
⅔ cup chinese chili flakes (65 grams)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp msg
1 tbsp sichuan peppercorns
1 star anise
1 inch cinnamon stick
- Add oil to a pot along with peppercorns, star anise, and cinnamon. Set it over medium heat until small bubbles start to form around the spices. About 300°F / 150C°. Turn off the heat and let the spices steep for an hour.
- In the meantime, thinly slice the garlic and pour the chili flakes into a heat proof container.
- Remove the spices with a strainer. Turn the heat back on medium and then add the garlic. Once the garlic is golden brown, immediately pour the oil through a strainer and onto the chili flakes. Set aside the fried garlic for later use.
- While the oil is still hot, add sugar, salt, and msg. Stir to evenly incorporate. Let rest at room temperature to cool.
- Transfer the now cooled oil to an airtight storage container. Store in the fridge up to 4-6 months.