Homemade chili oil

There’s (at least) a brand of Sichuan peppercorn oil, restaurants use it. It makes you appreciate how fresh the ingredients must be for it to be shelf stable.

Now that I think of it, I’ll update my note to recall that, yes, the effect of the Sichuan peppercorns does last longer–like, I think I can tell for maybe 20-30 minutes that I had some. The thing is, they lack the sharpness and “burning” effect that can linger longer in the “pain” dimension that comes with very hot chiles, so it’s more subtle than chiles, not to mention altogether different and, it seems, unique.

Very true! Herbs and spices play with the senses in ways other than taste and smell:

  • Capsaicin, the chemical that gives chilis heat, activate pain receptors, so you get that “burning” sensation.
  • Hydroxy alpha sanshool, the chemical in Sichuan peppercorns and sansho peppercorns, gives what’s often referred to as a “numbing” sensation. It mainly operates on sensory receptors that deal with mechanical, rather than pain, stimulation. A study a few years back quantified this and found the numbing was similar to if you had a mechanical device vibrating ~50 times per second (imagine a tuning fork or a cell phone vibrating really fast).
  • Note that the numbing of Sichuan peppercorns is different than the “numbing”/loss of pain you get from anesthetics or foods containing eugenol like tarragon or cloves.

Is it hot?

Drizzled over cream cheese with plenty of chili sediment, lots of scallion greens, and served spread on 6-seed crackers. Divine after a few bourbons.


I made chili oil for the first time a few weeks ago using Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe (linked in the OP), which is quite easy to make. I used some Korean ground red pepper that I had in my freezer.

I like it. It’s got a nice toasted chili flavor and a little bit of nutty sesame from the sesame seeds. Not very hot though, just a bit of heat.


Looks yum!

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Yeah, I also find the easiness of her recipe appealing. If I recall correctly, recipes that start with whole dried chilies need to be cooked for longer periods of time because the excess moisture in the chilis could make the end product a food safety concern. Korean chili flakes are already dry enough that it’s not an issue.

A nice thing about the mildness is that you still get lots of chili flavor, and can adjust heat on a dish as you cook each dish. Alternatively, to make it hotter, I swap a tablespoon of the Korean chili flakes for Trader Joe’s chili flakes, which tend to be spicier than most brands (if you want real heat you’d need to amp that up)

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The standard Korean chili flakes are way more on the fruity side than hot. You could practically eat it by the spoonful and not be in too much pain. I guess you would want some other variety of spicy peppers, I think most recipes call for the hot Chinese/Sichuan variety.

Yeah it isn’t very hot. Maybe next time I will look for dried Sichuan pepper flakes if they sell them that way. I have some Chinese dried whole peppers, perhaps I can just grind those up.

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I managed to get a bag of ground Sichuan chili from Mala Market a few weeks ago (https://themalamarket.com/collections/sichuan-spices-dry-goods/products/sichuan-chili-flakes-xiang-la-jiao-mian) and made some chili oil. It made a noticeably different chili oil - quite a bit more heat (the one with Korean ground chili was quite mild) and a slightly different flavor.


That looks really great. You definitely can just grind up Chinese chilies, by the way (like I did up here.) I use my Ninja chopper and proceed from there.

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I’m reading this, Olive magazine March issue:

One of my versions has dried shrimp and dried shiitake in it. Now that’s umami.

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NVM. Looks like it’s been covered

I have tried the crispy chilli oil posted on SE before. Gonna do it again using my Mexican chillies.

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Took me some time to find this thread. It’s either “chilli” or American spelling “chile” (like the country). Turns out the word used in thread title is “chili”.

Anyway, just want to say also check out Chiu Chow-style chilli oil/sauce. It’s similar to Lao Gan Ma but not exactly. I have never tried Lee Kum Kee version but heard it’s rubbish.

No recipe but it has some background info:

I make my own chilli oils using Mexican chillies but without any garlic for safety reasons. I press a few cloves and add to it just before eating. Today I made chipotle mecco with dried shiitake, and dried deep-fried shallots (store-bought). Another one with dried shrimp. Pretty sure Chinese versions contain MSG but since I don’t have MSG the shiitake and dried shrimp provide that umami/MSG taste.

My salsa machita/macha also contains no garlic. No problem adding fresh garlic to it just before eating.

I really doubt garlic is significantly more risky than the chiles themselves. The spores of C. botulinum are extremely  hardy - they can survive extreme dryness for very long periods.The fact that the chiles don’t actually grow underground probably somewhat reduces their tendency to harbor the spores compared to garlic, but I wouldn’t count on the difference being big enough to warrant treating them any differently than the garlic…

In other words, it’s a good idea to avoid storing garlic not cooked at a temperature high enough to destroy the spores (~ 250F) in oil for extended periods, but the same holds true for the dried chiles (or any other ag product not heated sufficiently to destroy the spores)…

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Thanks! I have thought about frying the garlic in oil to extract the flavour only.

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I often use Garlic, Scallion and Spices in my Szechuan Style Chili Oil. They are are cooked slowly at a lower temp, then removed from the Oil. The Oil temp is then raised and the hot Oil poured over the crushed Chilies, Szechuan Pepper, Peanuts and Sesame.


That’s beautiful!