Saturday, July 01, 2006

Lao Chen's Chilli Oil recipe, version 1.0

Flavour similar to the garlic & chilli sauce served with Hainanese chicken rice, but packaged as chilli oil with a slight aroma of fried onions.

Note the evil looking bit of red-orange oil


150g small chillies
1 onion
1.5 bulbs (not cloves) of garlic, sliced
A fragment of ginger, equal to the volume of half a bulb of garlic
Cooking oil
3 tbsp of sesame oil
2 tbsp of salt

Makes about 300ml, equal to one mid-sized (300g) jam bottle full.

150g of chillies


Ideally, chilli oil should contain as little water as possible. Thus, it’s a good idea to toss the chillies in a colander or basket after washing to remove as much water as possible.

Roughly cut the onion into small pieces and heat in a dry, non-stick pan over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir or toss frequently. The purpose of this step is to quickly remove as much water content from the onion as possible.

Put ginger, chillies, garlic and semi-dried onions into food processor and pulverise to a puree.

Pour puree, salt and sesame oil into a cooking pot, preferably one with a thick bottom. Add enough cooking oil to wet the mixture. Heat over low to moderate heat for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent charring. Ensure cooking area is well ventilated; if you find yourself choking of capsaicin (chilli’s active ingredient) vapour, lower the heat a little and open the windows wider.

Untested alternatives:

Use more onions to dilute the spiciness.

Instead of dry heating the onions in a pan, stir fry with a little oil over high heat. It should smell better; who doesn’t like heat-treated onions. But putting that oily mess into the blender ensures a troublesome washing chore ahead.

Roughly chop chilli, garlic, onion. Spread over baking tray together with sliced ginger. Heat on in oven low heat with convection fan turned on. This should dry them out, allowing the final cooking phase to be less time consuming. But if final cooking time is reduced then the product must be bottled and stored for a period of time for the flavours to diffuse properly into the oil.