This Sichuan chile oil is a hot condiment made by infusing oil with chile peppers, Sichuan pepper, cinnamon, bay leaf, and cloves. Drizzle over rice, noodles, vegetables, stir-fries, eggs, fish, just about anything, and prepare to be amazed. One of the best condiments we’ve tried.
This tongue-tingling Sichuan chile oil is hot. There’s no denying that. But it’s hot in a haunting and earthy and floral and pretty much addictive sorta way thanks to the dried chiles and Sichuan peppers doing a little dance with a touch of cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. What you end up with is a subtle complexity, making this fiery condiment eminently more interesting than any store-bought chile oil. Known as red oil in China, it’s absolutely transformative with whatever you drizzle it over, including rice, noodles, potstickers, fish, stir-fries, and all manner of steamed or grilled vegetables. Now that’s what we call hot stuff!–Jenny Howard
NOTE: What Are Sichuan Peppercorns?
Despite the name, Sichuan peppercorns are actually the dried berries of the Chinese prickly ash bush. Numbingly spicy when eaten, they also have an enticing floral and citrusy aroma and come in both red and green varieties. If your whole Sichuan pepper mix contains black seeds along with the red husks, you’ll want to pick them out since they contribute a rather strong bitterness. We like to toss the Sichuan peppercorns in a hot, dry skillet for a minute or so to coax out all the sensational flavors and aroma before grinding them into a fine powder.
Sichuan Chile Oil
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 2 H, 15 M
- Makes 2 cups
- 2 heaping cups dried Chinese red chile peppers (70 to 80), preferably Japones or Tien Tsin or another medium-hot variety, or 1/2 cup crushed red chile flakes
- 2 cups mild vegetable oil or peanut oil
- 1 cinnamon stick, or more as desired
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 whole star anise
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, or more as desired
- 2 tablespoons ground Sichuan pepper* (see NOTE above)
- 1. If you’re using whole dried Chinese chile peppers, remove any stems and pulse the whole chiles in a food processor until you have about 1/2 cup coarse flakes. If you’re using crushed red chile flakes, proceed to step 2.
- 2. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until the temperature reads about 200°F (95°C) on a deep-fry thermometer. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the chile flakes, cinnamon, bay leaf, star anise, cloves, and Sichuan pepper. (If more of a warming spice note is desired, add a touch more cinnamon and/or cloves.) Let the oil sit for 2 hours and then scoop out the cinnamon, bay leaf, and star anise and discard. (Do not strain out the chile flakes, cloves, or Sichuan pepper.)
- 3. Transfer the chile oil to a clean glass jar or use a funnel to transfer it to more slender-necked bottles. Screw on the lid and keep at room temperature. It will keep for up to several months when stored in a cool, dry place.