When it comes to cooking Chinese dishes at home, chili oil is one of those essential ingredients you’ll want to get right. Here at Fly By Jing, we want to ensure that you cook with the flavors and spices that make your dishes really stand out, which is why we carry the chili crisps and oils designed to take your favorite dishes to the next level. Here are just a few reasons every kitchen should have chili oil.
What Is Chili Oil?
Chili oil can be found in many different types of cuisines, including Italian, Portuguese, and Turkish. When it comes to unique Chinese flavors, however, it often shows up in Sichuan cooking, which is known for being one of the hottest and spiciest of the main Chinese regional cuisines.
This is largely due to the region’s climate and what is commonly grown there—peppers. The local climate is known for its humidity, which has led to the use of hot and sweet peppers in many of the Sichuan dishes most cooked today.
For instance, the Erjingtiao pepper is milder with a strong fragrance and bright coloring that often gives chili oil its unique and enticing appearance. Another common flavor comes from the tribute pepper. It causes a strong tingling sensation when eating, which is said to numb your lips enough to continue eating more.
Chili oil is made through a process of heating oil over your chili peppers. Other ingredients can be added to create a specific flavor profile, including peppercorns, ginger, sesame, and vinegar.
While you can make chili oil at home, finding some of the ingredients can be challenging. Because Sichuan peppers are actually part of the citrus family, they were banned from import into the United States until 2005 for fear of causing citrus blight.
Fly By Jing has worked to perfect the balance of ingredients and flavors, so you can begin making your favorite Sichuan dishes right at home with delicious, bold chili oil.
Best Uses For Chili Oil
There are so many unique ways to use chili oil in your cooking, from the classic Sichuan dishes to flavors and meals that really think outside the box. Whether you’ve been cooking Chinese food at home for years or you’re just learning the basics, there are a few chili oil dishes that will serve you right every time. Here are some of the best uses for chili oil in your next meal.
Dan Dan Noodles
Dan Dan noodles can be a little complicated to make, but they’re more than worth the effort. You can reduce your workload for this dish if you already have chili oil on hand, but otherwise, it’s comprised of four main sections: making the oil, cooking the meat and vegetables, creating the sauce, and preparing the noodles and greens before serving.
You’ll want to start by making your chili oil first. Like with all chili oil dishes, you can decide how hot you want your dish to be and make changes depending on which peppers appeal to both the meal and your palate.
Next, prepare your meat and pickled vegetables. For this dish, you’ll be using pork, flavored with sweet bean sauce, Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, and your Chinese five-spice mixture. Sui mi ya cai are a type of pickled vegetable you can find in many Asian markets and are used to add an acidic balance to the dish.
For the sauce, you will use sesame paste, soy sauce, Sichuan peppercorn, chili oil, garlic, and a hint of sugar, as well as spices and water from your noodles for some extra starchiness. Prepare it all with medium white noodles and your favorite greens and top with peanuts and scallions.
Biang Biang Noodles
Biang biang noodles are so delicious and so much fun to eat—but we believe that every dish could use a little heat right at the end, and this meal is no exception. It’s said that the name comes from the sound of the noodle dough being slapped against the table during the cooking process. Another fun fact is that the character for biang is one of the most notoriously difficult ones to write and is comprised of almost sixty strokes.
Biang biang noodles blend flavors of ginger, garlic, red chili, cumin, and coriander. The thick, homemade noodles are excellent for catching and sticking to the sauce. That’s why we recommend adding a touch of your favorite chili oil right at the end to bring out all the bold flavors in your biang biang noodles and to give this dish a little extra heat.
Mapo tofu is one of our favorite dishes. It’s also extremely versatile and can be made for a vegan diet with ease.
For mapo tofu, in addition to your chili crisp and chili oil, you’ll also get some of your heat and spice from whole and roasted Sichuan peppers. Other flavors are derived from garlic, ginger, bean paste, and dried shitake mushrooms.
You’ll begin by preparing your mushrooms and tofu in the food processor and boiling salted water, respectively. Then bring your chili oil to heat and add your garlic and ginger, followed by the mushrooms, bean paste, and whole pepper. After that, add your stock and heat to boil, put in the tofu and scallions, and thicken with cornstarch.
Serve over rice with scallions and a topping of Sichuan peppers to taste.
What Flavors Does Chili Oil Pair Well With?
While chili oil can be used in many different ways, including both in meals and as a condiment on the side, there are benefits to mixing and matching it with some of the other bold flavors available here at Fly By Jing. For your next dish, consider exploring some of these unique and delicious flavor combinations.
Zhong sauce has a sweet and spicy flavor to it that matches well with the heat of classic chili oil. It’s made with brown sugar, soy sauce, and mushrooms, in addition to your favorite Chinese flavors. That together balances the spice of chili oil and creates a unique and bold palate you won’t want to miss.
Mala Spice Mix
Mala spice is another can’t-miss combination of flavors that takes it in the other direction. Like chili oil, it’s all about the heat, and also created from a mix of Sichuan peppers. It’s also incredibly versatile and can be used as a spice rub or batter. You may even find you love it as a cocktail compliment, too!
How to Make Chili Oil
With our chili crisp, it’s easier than ever to make the chili oil you love right at home. In it, you’ll find our umami flavoring, a meaty, savory flavor derived from mushrooms and seaweed. With no preservatives or additives, what you get is pure, unadulterated taste. It’s hot, spicy, and perfectly numbing on the tongue, and there’s nothing better.
We also carry the best Sichuan peppers, so you can go back to basics and decide exactly how hot you want your next home-cooked Chinese food dish to be. You’ll want to use a neutral oil, like grapeseed or canola oil.
Prepare your extra flavors, like cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns, and ginger, and cover them in oil. Bring the oil to heat, around 225F, until small bubbles begin to form. Watch your oil closely for signs of burning and adjust the heat accordingly. Carefully pour the oil through a strainer over your chili flakes and stir to coat. If you smell burning, your oil is too hot. Add salt and cool before storing or use immediately.
When it comes to cooking with chili oil, the only limit is your imagination. You can find many unique and delicious Chinese food recipes and recipes from around the world that call for chili oil in their preparation. Or you can create your own, using your homemade chili oil or a combination of great flavors.
Chili oil is also an easy and delicious condiment that can add a little hint of something spicy and delicious to every meal, whether you put it into the dish or serve it on the side. And because you can make chili oil with ease right at home, you can always adjust how hot it is and what extra flavors you add.
Thanks to the bold and delicious flavors of Sichuan peppers, chili oil is an easy and beloved ingredient you can make, store, and use all the time. Start trying out your favorite recipes and find the best uses for chili oil in your kitchen today.