Chilli oil, chilli garlic sauce, chilli crisp—no matter what you decide to call it, it is inarguably one of the best condiments to ever exist, and I'm a fan. Chilli oil has sticky garlic, red chilli flakes with the underlying tones of sugar steeped in oil. It can make any dish whole—from pastas, and ice-cream to noodles, dumplings and salads; you name it. Another great thing about chilli oil is its versatility, you can add it at the end of the dish for a kick of spice, serve it as a condiment, or even use it in the beginning to cook your food.
While sriracha, and Tabasco have their uses, chilli oil is gaining popularity in the US and other parts of the world as a cult favourite. Available not only in Asian markets, it is wildly popular in mainstream American markets like Walmart and Trader Joe's too. Chilli oil was one of the first condiments from the Asian cuisine to gain fame abroad, mainly owing to its malleability in the kitchen. Although traditionally chilli oil gets its umami flavour from mushrooms and seaweed, highlighting Sichuan peppers, many emerging brands are coming up with their own versions of it.
What do you need
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to making chilli oil. The traditional method includes cooking the pepper flakes in oil along with flavourings of your choice, be it shallots, scallions, ginger or cinnamon. Avoid using oils with a low smoking point or ones with distinct flavours. The best option is to make your own blend with sesame, vegetable or olive oil. This way, it doesn't overpower your oil and still manages to retain a lovely aroma. Using the best of ingredients available will truly give your jar of chilli oil that edge.
¼ cup Dried chilli flakes
½ cup Neutral oil /sesame oil
3 tbsp Chopped garlic (optional)
1 tsp Red chilli powder
5 tbsp Sugar
5 tbsp Soy sauce
Here's what you do
Heat the oil on a low flame and add the finely chopped garlic. Once it becomes sticky, add chilli flakes and chilli powder.
To this add sugar and soy sauce. Allow the flavours to steep into the oil by cooking it on a low flame for 10 minutes. Once cooled, refrigerate in a glass jar for maximum shelf life.
This jar of chilli oil will stay fresh in the refrigerator for upto six months and that's about it! Use it to your heart's content on anything you prefer, from noodles and savoury pancakes to pastas, stir fries and rice-based dishes.
A culinary student, Kaavya Sridharan is an aspiring food writer and chef, a babka enthusiast and vociferous re-reader of the Harry Potter books. She fosters a keen love for her plant babies that she tends to while listening to Indie music, typically with a steaming cup of adrak chai.