Sometimes you just need a good chili oil, am I right? This oil is extremely full flavored. It's not just olive oil mixed with a little kick. This is an all out flavor fest with ginger, shallot, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, anise, chilis (of course), and more. I use it for drizzling over tofu or stir fry dishes, for adding a burst of flavor to the top of whipped ricotta cheese dip, or for just plain dipping with good crusty bread. It's SO good.
Ingredients for the chili base
3 oz. crushed red pepper/chili flakes
10-12 whole dried chilis, stems removed (thai, birdseye, etc.)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoons white pepper, ground
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons smoked paprika, ground (for color)
Ingredients for the oil infusion
20 oz. olive oil (I used extra virgin)
4" knob of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 1" chunks
20 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled, whole
5 shallots, peeled and sliced in half
10 star anise, rinsed with water
5 cinnamon sticks, rinsed with water
Mix all of the ingredients for the chili base in a large heat-safe bowl or container. Set aside. Next, we'll start the oil infusion. Pour the 20 ounces of olive oil in a large saucepot over medium high heat. Allow to heat until it reaches roughly 225 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't have a thermometer, allow to heat for about five to ten minutes. Drop a small scrap of shallot into the oil. If it simmers with small bubbles, it's ready. If it deep fries with large bubbles and seems intense, turn down the heat. Make sure to remove your tester shallot slice.
Once the oil is hot, add the sliced ginger. Allow to fry for only 15 seconds. Remove the ginger with a strainer and set aside. It should not be blackened, just slightly browned. It's important to not burn the ingredients that are infusing the oil. Next add the garlic. Fry for 20 seconds. Remove and set aside. Next add the shallot. Allow to cook for 30 seconds. Remove and set aside. The star anise should have been rinsed under water to keep from scorching during cooking, as should have the cinnamon sticks. Add the moistened star anise to the oil. Allow to cook for 2.5 minutes. Remove the anise and set aside. Lastly add the cinnamon sticks. Allow to cook for 90 seconds. Remove the cinnamon and set aside. Turn off the heat and allow the infused oil to cool slightly. The solids from infusing the oil (the ginger, garlic, shallot, etc.) may be discarded or composted.
After allowing the infused oil to cool for about 5 minutes, pour a small amount from the sauce pot into the heat safe container holding the chili base. We want the oil to heat the chili base gradually--not all at once or we risk cooking the ingredients! I usually start by pouring in about a 1/2 cup. Over the next few minutes, slowly add the infused oil about 1/2 to one cup at a time until all of the infused oil resides in the heat safe container. The chili oil is now prepared!
Allow to fully cool before handling, eating, or storing in air tight containers. Infused oil can be stored in the refrigerator to prolong shelf life. I personally keep mine on the counter as we go through it quickly! Just remember chilled oil can solidify so be sure to set out to warm up for a while before use.
So what do you do with all that food you grow? This blog has some ideas.
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