If you’ve followed my blog, you probably remember the name Sichuan. I have mentioned this place in my previous posts several times. Perhaps you can also remember I called my hometown in China the “capital of spicy food”? Please do not get me wrong, we don’t just simply add heaps of chillies to our dishes… eh .. OK, we do that, too … But not only that! 😉
Sichuan Cuisine is very popular throughout whole China and known for its spicy taste. However, this spice taste has much more structure than you would imagine. Not only the particularly spicy red chili, but also the legendary Sichuan pepper and many other spices contribute to the multilayered taste of spicy food in Sichuan Cuisine.
Sichuan pepper is mostly used in dried and roasted form. For the very brave people there is also an opportunity to get it in the raw form. Dried Sichuan peppers have a dark reddish brown color and look a bit like small rose buds. Therefore, they are also called flower pepper in some places in Sichuan. There are different opinions among European Chefs regarding the description of their taste. Some chefs think that the Sichuan pepper has a lemon-like taste. Others say that it reminds them a bit of mint. For me it is clear that the unique flavor of the Sichuan pepper makes the european tongues insecure.
In Sichuan, we have a great name for this special pepper which only grows in Sichuan: numb pepper. No, no, not because this pepper has no feeling. 😉 The word “numb” in fact refers to the taste sensation of the people. If you add a good portion of this wonderful pepper to your food, you can get a tingling sensation on the tongue during eating. It feels like as if your tongue has become a bit insensible for a short time – thus, it became numb! In China we call “insensibility” or “numbness” of a body part ma – which means “numb”. This is the reason for the funny name numb pepper.
Numb pepper is essential for Sichuan cuisine, not only because it makes sichuan dishes a very special Chinese cuisine which is popular all over China. Further more, it defines a complete new taste sensation: Mala 麻辣- numb and spicy! Therefore, numb pepper is also a must for this recipe for the Sichuan chili oil. However chilli and numb pepper are not the only ingredients for the preparation of this magical chili oil. In addition, there are a dozen other spices that give the chili oil an incredibly multilayered structure.
I adopted this recipe from a wonderful Chinese recipe book on Sichuan cuisine (in English “Just love Sichuan Kitchen”) and have done some small changes to the ingredients and the method. Preparing this chili oil will require quite some time. But it is absolutely worth it! This chili oil tastes fabulous! And, it is universally applicable! Not only for the Chinese cuisine, but also awesome for European cuisine. I love to add some drops of this oil to fresh made pasta, pizza and dips etc. For all I care, this wonder oil can actually be used anywhere, because it tastes so delicious and will take your dishes to a new level… if you love spicy food! Trust me. 😉
Ingredients (for 1L chili oil) :
1L canola oil ( cold pressed)
250g dried Sichuan chillies (Asia shop , alternatively any other kind of hot chili )
50g dried Sichuan pepper (Asia shop)
50g white sesame seeds
20g roasted peanuts (unsalted)
30g spring onions
10g star anise
5 bay leaves
20g fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean
- Add the dried chillies and Sichuan pepper to a pan and cook on low heat until they get a brown color and are becoming fragrant (this can also lead to heavy coughing and tears ;-)) . Take the spices out of the pan and let them cool on a baking sheet.
- Pour the chilled chillies and Sichuan pepper into a chopper and process to medium-sized graininess.
- Cut the spring onions, onions and ginger into smaller pieces and set aside.
- Heat the canola oil in a saucepan with heavy bottom over high heat until 160-180 degrees. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the spring onions , onions and ginger to the oil. Fry in oil until they become fragrant.
- Then add anise, bay, fennel, cinnamon and vanilla to the pan and fry until they become fragrant, too.
- Now strain the spices oil through a sieve. Keep only the filtered oil.
- Add the chopped chillies and peppers with sesames and peanuts together in a heat-resistant container. Reheat the filtered oil to about 180 degrees. Take a large soup ladle of the heated oil and add to the container with chili mixture. The chili mixture should absorb the hot oil completely.
- Chill the rest of the oil to about 90 degrees and then give it to the chili mixture too. Mix well and chill completely. Fill the chili oil in a vacuum sealed container and place it at a dark and cool place (but please not into refrigerator).
Congratulations to your own original chili oil from Sichuan! 😀