This is a must-have hot chili oil recipe if you are a spicy food lover. It only calls for two ingredients, and you can make it in just a few minutes. Use it as an ingredient in your cooking or simply as a condiment to heat up your dishes.
I spent a couple years of my childhood in a small town called Tianshui in Gansu province, China. That’s where my father resides. I climbed trees and mountains, explored a forest, flew a kite, and learned to appreciate the fresh chili pepper there. That must be how I developed my unusual tolerance for spicy food.
If you like spicy food, you might be familiar with hot chili oil, a popular condiment in Chinese cuisine, particularly used in Sichuan cuisine to heat up your dishes in a gentle Asian way. Like salsa in Mexico, hot chili oil is in every single household in northwestern China. And the chili pepper and chili flakes from that region have a unique fragrance and taste that make the homemade chili oil extra flavorful.
Hot chili oil can be used as an ingredient in your cooking, a condiment, a dip for meat and dim sum, or even in your stir-fry. It’s crucial in the famous Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles. You can request it in any Chinese restaurant in the States or buy commercial Chinese chili oil in grocery stores, Asian markets, or on Amazon. However, I found it’s not very accessible in places without a Chinatown, and it’s even harder to search for that specific type of chili pepper.
After I moved to the States, in attempts to find the taste of my childhood, I tried many types of chili powder to make chili oil. I used regular chili powder, cayenne pepper, and even red pepper flakes. But none of them had the right taste until I came across this Korean Red Chili Pepper Flakes Powder. This chili pepper powder is native to a specific region in China, and it’s packaged in Korea. I love using it for homemade kimchi, but I also discovered that making a chili oil with this chili powder certainly brings back my childhood memories.
As for the cooking oil, instead of using highly-processed vegetable oil, peanut oil, or Canola oil, I’d recommend a high-quality extra virgin olive oil like this one, sesame oil, or avocado oil. One of the advantages of making things at home is that you get to choose the ingredients to put into your food. So pick something good. 🙂
Now, with just two ingredients, you can make your own hot chili oil at home in just a few minutes. All you need to do is to soak the pepper in heated oil. Let the extraordinary flavor from the pepper fully infuse the oil. Don’t get scared by the red color! Sometimes only the red oil is used in cooking, and it’s not as spicy as it looks. Instead, it brings a strong aroma from the pepper into your dish. I’ve used it in American cuisine as well. It’s wonderful.
Homemade hot chili oil can easily be stored in a jar at room temperature without refrigeration. It lasts for months. After soaking the pepper powder in the oil for a few hours, feel free to discard the powder solids if you like. I personally prefer to leave the solids at the bottom of the jar, so I can choose whether I want to use the hot oil only, or I want the pepper solids as well.
Love spicy food? I strongly recommend you make some chili oil because you can use it in these mouthwatering recipes below.
The best chili oil you’ll ever have!
- Place Korean Red Chili Pepper Flakes Powder in a heat-proof container. For example, a glass measuring cup (as in the photos) will work.
- In a small saucepan, heat up olive oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until you see a tiny bit of smoke. Turn off the heat.
- Slowly and carefully pour the heated oil onto the pepper powder. It will immediately sizzle. Make sure the running oil touches the entire pepper surface until the pepper is completely covered in the oil. Stir and let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer oil and pepper solids into a jar.
- If you want the hot oil only, let the pepper solids sit in the oil for a few hours, and then transfer the flavored oil into a jar. By then, the pepper solids are all at the bottom of the measuring cup and are very easy to discard.
- When heating up oil in a saucepan, make sure that the saucepan is completely dried. Any water in the pan will cause oil to explode. Be careful.
- This recipe yields around 1 1/4 cups hot chili oil.
- You can also cut down the ingredients to make a smaller portion.