Fresh garlic chili oil is always a staple on my counter not to be confused with chili paste such as sriracha or sambal (Garlic/chili paste). I drizzle it on everything from pizza to calzones, dumplings to spring rolls, and even add a little to salad dressings for little extra kick……I actually do this……..guilty. That’s how much I love chili oil.
My first introduction to chili oil was, of course, in a Chinese dim sum restaurant. Perfectly placed in the middle of the round lazy susan, it’s was always within arms reach. I saw my mom and older siblings drizzling it on dumplings, rice, lo mein and even mix it with soy sauce. I got curious, copied them and I was instantly hooked.
Sichuan Chili Oil
The king of Chinese chili oil is Sichuan chili oil. This tongue-numbing chili oil is not for the weak. It contains Sichuan peppercorns which have a unique characteristic of numbing and tingling the tongue. With additional flavors such as star anise and cinnamon, this is the most unique of the chili oils.
In parts of Italy, Calabria and Naples, chili oil was something that had to be asked for. The italians, they like to keep it simple so olive oil and chilis were all that are used. The big difference in Italy is that the chilis are infused without heat. So it takes a few weeks for the heat to get infused with the oil.
Along the southern coast of Mexico, in Veracruz, salsa matcha is the local chili oil. The uniqueness of this chili oil comes from the addition of crushed roasted peanuts. Going to Mexico every year, this was my go to condiment when eating fish tacos and grilled seafood.
With so many countries who have their own version of chili oils, even Wikipedia can’t even keep track of more than four!
Savor The Heat
I want to be able to enjoy my food but at the same time feel a little bit of heat but heat that has flavor. So here is my special homemade garlic chili oil. It’s the perfect balance of heat, garlic and a touch of sweetness, not to mention it goes great with homemade dumplings.
If you haven’t tried homemade dumplings, you’re missing out. Ditch the frozen store-bought dumplings, go for fresh and homemade. This is the best way to add your own personal touch and flavor. If you need some ideas check out my post on Next Level Shumai Dumplings. It’s a great primer on making your first dumpling.
Fresh Garlic Chili Oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 5-7 whole Thai bird chilis
- 1 tbsp crushed red chilis
- 1 tsp Korean red pepper powder course
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
- Finely mince garlic and thai bird chilis. If using a mortar and pestle, add garlic, thai bird chilis, and salt to mortar.
- Pound until a somewhat rough paste or finely minced.
- Next, add the sugar, and pound a little more to incorporate the sugar Korean red chili powder.
- In a small saucepan, heat vegetable oil to 300° or flick a few tiny drops of water and if it crackles it's ready.
- Carefully pour hot oil slowly into mortar as the hot oil will splatter and boil up. Stir and let cool before using.
- Store in an air tight container for up to 1 week in the fridge. Mine never lasts that long so I leave it on the counter for the week.