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Homemade Chili Oil


markk
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I have some fresh chili peppers (of the Habanero, Serrano, Scotch Bonnet variety) and would like to make my own chili oil to take to restaurants where the food's not hot enough. Does anybody know what kind of oil to use, and how I should do this? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated. (If I should use anything besides oil, please let me know - primarily, this will be to spice up Chinese and Thai food.) Thanks!

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Easy.

Just chop up the chiles, put them in a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed and bring to a very gentle simmer. Allow to cool, cover, let sit overnight then strain (or not) the next day.

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Homemade chile oil is great, and Jinmyo tells you how. But for spicing up Thai food, I'd have to recommend using prik nam pla (sliced Thai chiles in fish sauce) rather than hot oil. And any Thai restaurant worth its fish sauce will bring a bowl to your table on request.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Yes, I primarily meant for Chinese food. Does anybody know how the Thai Chilies compare in heat to whatever the dried red Szechuan pepper is?

(I to go one Thai restaurant, though, where their chili sauce could be a little hotter - maybe I've just gotten too used to the serranos and habaneros and scotch bonnets (if indeed they're different from the habaneros).

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Most Thai places can make some fairly spicey food if you can drill it into their heads you want the version they would serve to a Thai customer. I find that often you need to go to the same place multiple times and overcome numerous objections of 'oh no, that is very very hot, are you sure?' before they give you the full whammy.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Most Chinese-style chili oil is made with dried chilies, not fresh. About 1/3 cup finely chopped dried chili to 1c canola or soybean oil, simmer, cool. The chilies will all sink to the bottom. Keeps for months. There are often some additional flavours added - for example, in Chiu Chow style oil, there's also a little garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil (or seeds), salt and sugar.

If you use fresh chiles, I would strain them out after a day or so unless you're using the oil fairly soon. The oil lasts longer that way. No need to do this with dried.

Re the heat of Thai chilies vs dried Sichuan - if you're talking about fresh Thai 'prik kee noo' chilies - the little mouse poop shaped ones - I'd say they're slightly milder than dried Sichuan. But it's a moot comparison because they're not used the same way in cooking. In any case, neither are close to habaneros.

If you want hotter Thai food, request your dishes be made with more more prik kee noo, or else ask for a side bowl of the fresh chopped chilies. If your restaurant is only using dried chili instead of fresh, change restaurants. In Thailand it's not uncommon to spec the number of chilies you want in a dish, especially for dishes where the chiles used are raw like yam woon sen (beanthread noodle salad). The Thai words for 'very hot' are 'pet maaak'.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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A TREMENDOUS THANK-YOU TO EVERYBODY HELPING OUT ON THIS !!!

How long will my homemade chili oil keep? Do I have to keep it refrigerated?

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I keep mine in the fridge, but most restaurants keep it on the table and it seems to last for a long time - weeks if not months without refrigeration. The commercial oils (like Lee Kum Kee) don't have preservatives.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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thai peppers are hotter than szechuan peppercorns...

They are not quite as hot as a scotch bonnet but they are hot enough to make you hyperventilate (I passed out once after eating one in one bite).

It might be worth your time to make some sriracha too...if you have enough peppers, but then again, chili oil does not require a ton of peppers. Just puree your chilis with some light vinegar, a little garlic and some salt hmmmm...

"Make me some mignardises, &*%$@!" -Mateo

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Bicycle Lee, you're talking Sichuan peppercorns, MarkK is talking Sichuan dried red chilies - two different animals, although often used together.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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To make szechuan style chilli oil put about 50 - 75g of crushed chilles into a bottle or preserving jar. If you have whole dried chillies fry them briefly to crisp them up, and crush yourself. Preferably using 'Facing Heaven' style chillies (tricky to source, the Cool Chile company in the UK sell them), or failing that the long red ones you can get in chinese supermarkets, best not to use the tiny thai ones - they are a bit too hot. Pour in about a litre of hot neutral oil - groundnut or sunflower oil will do, not too hot - you don't want to burn them. It should fiz up a bit, and then the chillis will slowy sink down.

It's best after a few days resting. For a hotter taste, use a bit of the sediment as well as the oil.

You can play with the basic recipe, add some ginger and maybe a star anise for a more fragrant version.

Again though, any decent restaurant should be have some in stock if you really want to add more heat, or make dishes hotter for you anyway.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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To make szechuan style chilli oil put about 50 - 75g of crushed chilles into a bottle or preserving jar. If you have whole dried chillies fry them briefly to crisp them up, and crush yourself...Again though, any decent restaurant should be have some in stock if you really want to add more heat, or make dishes hotter for you anyway.

Yes, this oil is exactly what all the Chinese restaurants have. I'm looking for something hotter, though. When I have take-out food, I slice-up some serranos and/or habaneros and scotch bonnets and add them to the food when I re-heat it. With the original question above, I was looking for a way to make an "oil" or condiment from the serranos and habaneros and scotch bonnets that I buy in the market, to take (smuggle into) the Chinese restaurant(s) when I dine there. All suggestions greatly appreciated! Incidentally, I'm finding that That restaurants are able to make food that's much closer to "hot enough" for me, and was also asking about the differences in the various peppers - Szechuan, Thai, and the ones I've been buying - serrano, habanero, scotch bonnet.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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To make szechuan style chilli oil put about 50 - 75g of crushed chilles into a bottle or preserving jar. If you have whole dried chillies fry them briefly to crisp them up, and crush yourself...Again though, any decent restaurant should be have some in stock if you really want to add more heat, or make dishes hotter for you anyway.

Yes, this oil is exactly what all the Chinese restaurants have. I'm looking for something hotter, though. When I have take-out food, I slice-up some serranos and/or habaneros and scotch bonnets and add them to the food when I re-heat it. With the original question above, I was looking for a way to make an "oil" or condiment from the serranos and habaneros and scotch bonnets that I buy in the market, to take (smuggle into) the Chinese restaurant(s) when I dine there. All suggestions greatly appreciated! Incidentally, I'm finding that That restaurants are able to make food that's much closer to "hot enough" for me, and was also asking about the differences in the various peppers - Szechuan, Thai, and the ones I've been buying - serrano, habanero, scotch bonnet.

Woh, hard core!

Not sure quite why you would want to, I love hot food myself, but wouldn't really want to overpower everything I am eating in a restaurant with haberanos.

I could imagine certain establishments taking some offence at that (Although I think the story of the Chef throwing customers out for adding there own salt is a bit of an urban myth).

I did always take a bottle of chilli sauce to mealtimes at my old college - but that really did need the help!

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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If you're looking to add other flavors beyond chile, I recommend Barbara Tropp's Chile Orange Oil from The China Moon Cookbook. In addition to the chiles and oil, she adds orange peel, garlic, scallions, sesame oil, and a few chopped fermented black beans.

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I would use dried chili's. Here's a cheap method. Those packets of dry chili flakes that the pizza delivery people always leave? Well, I mean, I don't actually eat pizza but when it gets deliverd to our office, I grab the Pizza Hut packets of dried chilis. That is what I put into a clean, neutral oil like safflower or corn oil. I don't like canola cause it gives off this fishy smell when it heats up.

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Easy.

Just chop up the chiles, put them in a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed and bring to a very gentle simmer. Allow to cool, cover, let sit overnight then strain (or not) the next day.

Very dumb question here: I didn't realize there are times you want to bring cooking oils to a simmer. Don't most oils, especially grapeseed, have a very high boiling point? Won't the chilies be completely burnt by the time you get to a simmer?

Chris Sadler

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Easy.

Just chop up the chiles, put them in a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed and bring to a very gentle simmer. Allow to cool, cover, let sit overnight then strain (or not) the next day.

Very dumb question here: I didn't realize there are times you want to bring cooking oils to a simmer. Don't most oils, especially grapeseed, have a very high boiling point? Won't the chilies be completely burnt by the time you get to a simmer?

I don't think Jinmyo means that the oil itself simmers. The "simmer" is the water in the chile turning to steam and being released into the oil, where it rises to the surface, giving the appearance of simmering. This means that the temperature is pretty close to good old 212 F.

My experience is that chiles, even dried ones, will turn bitter (long before they burn) at not much above this temperature, and even if they spend too long there. Like Jinmyo says, bring it to temp, then take it off the heat and let it steep. This gives the oils, which is where the flavor is, time to diffuse into the neutral medium.

Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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[Very dumb question here:  I didn't realize there are times you want to bring cooking oils to a simmer.    Don't most oils, especially grapeseed, have a very high boiling point?  Won't the chilies be completely burnt by the time you get to a simmer?

Since I'm the person who started this "homemade chili oil" thread, i wanted to reply, although I'm not a food scientist, and my posing the original question certainly has no bearing on my ability to answer your question. Still, I wanted to offer my thoughts to see if they're correct...

The various cooking oils indeed have a very high "smoke point" - that means, the temperature to which you CAN heat them before they start to give off smoke and decompose and get off-tasting. So if you wanted to sear something in a very hot oil that didn't burn, you'd want Safflower oil, whose smoke point is 510 degrees F, as opposed to Olive oil which burns (smokes) at 375.

But the suggestion to me was to use a neutral cooking oil (one that would not impart any taste of its own) and bring it only to the simmer - that is to say, much below the temperature that it could be heated to for deep frying - -I think that's why Jinmyo chose the word simmer. I used safflower oil, and I didn't use a thermometer, but I imagine that if I had, I would have found that the simmer temperature was quite low compared to the oil's "smoke point".

Anyway, that's my take on this. And for sure, at the simmer, the chiles didn't burn at all.

I did put a great quantity of them in about half a cup of oil, and the finished product was milder than I had hoped for. Next time I'm going to increase the amount of chilies.

Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Wow, seriously hardcore!

It's not too late to re-do the batch you just made....just strain out the chilis, do the same process with the same oil, let it sit for about a week, strain, and you'll have a great chili oil.

I like to use the less refined Chinese-branded peanut oil for my chili oils....it makes everything taste more fragrant when I use the chili oil. Safflower is good too though.

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Wow, seriously hardcore!

It's not too late to re-do the batch you just made....just strain out the chilis, do the same process with the same oil, let it sit for about a week, strain, and you'll have a great chili oil.

I like to use the less refined Chinese-branded peanut oil for my chili oils....it makes everything taste more fragrant when I use the chili oil. Safflower is good too though.

Thank you!

What are the rules for keeping and storing this? Somebody above mentioned that if I strained it out, it would keep longer. Finding it a bit mild, I left the chilies in for a few days. Now, with heating and re-using the oil, adding chilies, etc. I just want to be sure that I'm staing with in safe guidelines for keeping this. Any cautions or advice for me?

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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If you used dried chilies, just leave the chilies in, and the oil will keep for weeks or longer without refrigeration, and many months with refrigeration. Ditto if you used fresh chilies, then strained.

If you want to keep the fresh chilies in the oil I'd be tempted to refrigerate just to be sure. You might want to taste a few of the chiles in the oil to see if they're still very hot - if not, there's not much point leaving them in.

One reason for making this with dried chilies is that you can get a lot more concentrated flavour. I suggested 1/3 cup dried to 1 cup oil - I don't know how many fresh chilies it takes to make 1/3 cup dried, but I'd guess it's over a cup. So if you make this with fresh, you probably need a lot more chili to get the heat. That might be why yours came out so mild.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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  • 7 years later...

Has anyone tried crushing the dried chili seeds and using a very small amount of oil, to extract the spicy heat and make an oil that's very concentrated?

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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The oil coats your mouth, paradoxically protecting you from the burn you are looking for. Also oil is not a great thing to infuse as it takes taste quite slow and mild, this is why you have to have a long period of infusion to reach high Scovilles. Chopping the chillies as fine as possible will hasten the process of infusion.

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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What are the rules for keeping and storing this? Somebody above mentioned that if I strained it out, it would keep longer. Finding it a bit mild, I left the chilies in for a few days. Now, with heating and re-using the oil, adding chilies, etc. I just want to be sure that I'm staing with in safe guidelines for keeping this. Any cautions or advice for me?

Your main concern is botulism, because anything submerged in oil is in an anaerobic environment that suits the growth of the botulism bacteria. This is why it's important to heat the oil / chillis first - you want to sterilise them. And of course you want to clean and sterilise your bottle too... The riskiest approach is to simply take some raw chillis and pop them in some oil without any prep. Just google around for botulism and check you're not doing anything wrong.

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