Sichuan Chile Oil
Spicy chile crisp is a versatile condiment. Use it on noodles, over stir-fries, on eggs, with cold leftover meats, or in cold salads. (It’s especially good paired with yogurt and crisp, refreshing vegetables like cucumbers or raw snap peas.)
- Serves: 1 person
- 4dried chiles de árbol, stems and seeds removed (see Note)
- 2dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed (see Note)
- 1cup neutral oil, such as canola, rice bran or soybean oil
- 4garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a knife, skins discarded
- 1(1-inch) unpeeled knob fresh ginger, smashed with the side of a knife
- 1tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
- 1whole star anise pod
- 1teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1teaspoon whole fennel seeds
- 1tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1tablespoon sesame seeds (black, white or a mix)
- ½teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼teaspoon MSG powder, such as Aji-no-moto or Ac’cent (optional)
Step 1Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut all of the chiles into 1/2-inch pieces. Toast chiles in a dry wok or saucepan over medium heat, stirring and shaking constantly, until fragrant and lightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes.
Step 2Transfer toasted chiles to the bowl of a food processor or mortar and pestle, and pulse or pound until the chiles break into 1/8- to 1/4-inch pieces that resemble store-bought red-pepper flakes or flaky sea salt. (Be careful not to overprocess.) Transfer the chile flakes to a heat-proof mixing bowl.
Step 3Combine oil, garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cumin and fennel seeds in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until gently bubbling, then cook for 10 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain the barest of bubbling.
Step 4Set a fine-mesh strainer over the bowl with the chiles. Pour the hot oil through strainer over the chiles. Discard solids. Stir sugar, sesame seeds, salt and MSG, if using, into oil mixture until combined. Allow to cool, transfer to a sealed container, and let rest at room temperature overnight before using. You can store chile oil in a cool, dark pantry for a few weeks, or indefinitely in the refrigerator.