If your experience with chile oil up to now has been limited to supermarket brands, you are in for a real treat here. The spices slowly crisp up in the oil, tamping down their fiery natures and resulting in a crunchy, delightful gravel topped with a deliciously scented oil. Read the full article about Chinese mother sauces here. —Madame Huang
- Makes about 1½ cups
peanut or vegetable oil
toasted sesame oil
finely ground dried chiles
coarsely ground dried chiles
whole Sichuan peppercorns
whole dried or fresh orange peel, removed in a single strip, if you can
- Pour the oils into a 4-cup saucepan and add all of the chiles and the Sichuan peppercorns. Bring the oil to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to low so that the oil gently bubbles; do not cook the chiles over higher heat, as they will burn.
- After about 10 minutes, place the orange peel in the oil. I found through trial and error that the best way to cook the chile oil to perfection is to simmer the peppers over low heat for another 15 to 20 minutes or so, until the orange peel has turned brown. At this point, the peppers will be crispy but not browned, and the oil will have a gentle smokiness and will still be bright red.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit overnight. You can either discard the orange peel or chop it finely and add it to back to the oil for a subtle, citrusy perfume. Either strain out the oil into a squeeze bottle and keep the solids in a jar, or else combine them in a jar. If you’re not using it up in a couple of days, for optimum freshness, then keep it chilled.