The red hot love affair with Sichuan food began in Singapore. In China town. At the Old Chengdu Restaurant. It’s been a steady relationship since the last four years, and there’s no looking back now.
We’re so committed in this relationship that last year in October, we found ourselves in Chengdu for our annual holiday. Let me repeat and clarify, a 10 day long holiday in Chengdu and Lijiang. A food trip, involving the spiciest hot pots, wantons, dan dan noodles, and my favorite – Guo Kui. We already had our tickets booked for April 2020, but as we all know, it’s going to take a long long time before we’ll be able to take that food trip 2.0.
The last couple of weeks have been extremely stressful, so to keep myself busy and preoccupied – I tried learning how to make Sichuan food, which by the way is extremely easy to make once you have all the essential ingredients and sauces handy.
This sichuan chilli oil is yum! Extremely potent and blow-your-socks-off spicy! It’s also an essential for sichuan cooking and just lifts the flavor profile 10x.
I promise this is the only recipe for Sichuan Chilli Oil you’re ever going to need. It’s spicy, nutty, and numbing! I used Sichuan Peppercorns for this recipe which I had brought back from Chengdu – but once all this is over – you can easily find them on Amazon and gourmet grocery stores.
So without further ado –
Here’s what you need:
- 100g of Whole Dried Chilli – a typical mirchi packet from the store weighs 100g – so this works – the weight will reduce considerably when you deseed the chilli and throw out the stems – The chilli need to be halves and deseeded – you want to remove all the seeds – this oil is spicy as it is
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Sichuan Peppercorns
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
- 2 Cups Refined Oil
- 2 Green Onions – only the white part – chopped in one inch pieces
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves – bruised
- One Inch Ginger – slices
- 2 Star Anise
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 Inch Piece of Cinnamon
Here’s what you need to do:
Prepare the dried chillies – Deseed and cut into half – I used a scissor – Wear gloves while removing seeds – DO NOT touch your eyes or basically any body part, you’ll pay for it later and not in a fun way.
In a frying pan – Add all the dried red chillies and dry roast them on a medium flame until they darken in colour and there is a roasted chilli aroma (You want to keep an exhaust fan on)
Once the all the dried chilli are roasted – transfer to a mixer and blitz till coarsely ground. I went the macho way with a mortar and pestle and eventually cried after 45 mins – but I made it. Using a mortar and pestle really gave the chilli a lot of character in terms of a coarse and flattened grind which is difficult to get otherwise.
Once the chilli is prepped, transfer to a large bowl followed by the sesame seeds and peppercorns. Place a pair of chopsticks next to the bowl – they’re going to come handy later.
In a heavy bottomed pan – add the oil. In cold oil – add the aromatics – Green onions, garlic cloves and ginger slices. Turn on the heat on low – let them simmer and bubble until they begin to turn brown around the edges.
Once the vegetables begin to brown, add the spices – all at once. You want to fry this till the aromatics are browned – 5-6 mins.
Using a strainer/ meshed scooper, remove the spices and the aromatics from the hot oil.
Continue heating the oil, until very hot – you can also dip the tip of wooden chopsticks and see if bubbles form around it to decide if the oil is hot enough. You don’t want the oil to burn and start smoking. Needless to say, you have to be super careful when dealing with hot oil.
Pour half the oil on top of the chilli and stir. Wait for half a minute and pour the remaining oil till they singe and dance! You want to stir well at this point to make sure the chilli, peppercorns and sesame seeds are submerged in oil.
Let it rest and cool down (also develop in flavour). Once the contents of the bowl are cool enough to handle – transfer to an airtight jar. Let it sit for a day or two for the colour and flavour to seep into the oil.
And now, you have the best condiment ever! I drizzle chilli oil on everything from Maggi, Pizza, Cheese Sandwich, Crackers and even Daal Chawal!