Chinese Beef chili recipe
If you hang around our blog, it doesn’t take long to realize that we are kind of obsessed with all things chili oil and hot sauce.
From sriracha, to spicy bean paste, to chili oil, and, of course, the famous “lady sauce, ” as we call it, spicy sauces and oils show up in our fried rice and noodle recipes so often that my dad had to point out, “hey, you know there are people out there who may not like chili oil, ” a statement my sister and I met with blank stares before piling more chili oil into our bowls.
My philosophy is that pretty much everything can be improved with some hot sauce. A plate of noodles or a bowl of fried rice just isn’t as good without some delicious chili oil on top. Pot of gumbo boiling on the stove? Needs something……oh yeah MORE HOT SAUCE.
Which brings me to the current issue at hand: how to make chili oil at home. If you go to any Chinese restaurant (in the US or in China) worth their salt and ask for chili oil, they will bring out a deliciously fragrant, dark red, viscous chili oil that could make even a piece of shoe leather taste good.
Since living in China, we’ve tried to approximate these tasty chili oils at home with only limited success. There was some secret that we just weren’t getting–a trifecta, if you will, of key elements and perfectly executed conditions that would lead us to the perfect chili oil recipe.
Well. After a few experiments in the kitchen (we’ve still got the mediocre jars of chili oil at the back of the fridge to prove it), I think I’ve created the perfect chili oil. The secret is to infuse the oil with aromatics first, then pour it over ASIAN crushed chili flakes. These flakes are brighter red and have fewer seeds than your run-of-the-mill Italian crushed red pepper flakes, which tend to be roasted longer and darker (pouring hot oil over them results in a burnt, dull-flavored chili oil, and no one wants that).
We’ve used this chili oil recipe for fried rices, noodles, noodle soups, and in cold cucumber salads, and it has a magical ability to elevate EVERYTHING. In fact, every time we eat it, we still engage in silent, solemn head-shaking, in awe of how good it tastes. One of our favorite recipes for using this chili oil is our Sichuan Spicy Red oil wonton and I’m sure you will be happy after you give it a try!
And the best part? Homemade chili oil is actually extremely simple to make.
You KNOW you want some.
If you want to read up on the spices used in this and other recipes and where to purchase the peppercorns and red chili pepper, check out our Dry Spices and Condiments ingredients page. For the sister recipe to this chili oil, Chiu Chow Chili sauce, click here!
Heat the oil, star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and Sichuan peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium high heat. When the oil starts to bubble slightly, turn the heat down to medium.
Let the oil cook for 30 minutes like this. If you start to see that slight bubbling die down, periodically turn the heat back up to medium-high, then back down to medium if it gets too hot.
When the oil is done cooking, the seeds and pods should be darker in color, but not blackened (that means they burned, which results in subpar chili oil). Let the oil cool for 5 minutes. In a separate heat-proof bowl, measure out the crushed red pepper flakes and salt.
When completely cooled, transfer to a jar, and store in the refrigerator. The oil will keep for up to 6 months when stored this way (always remember to use a clean spoon to dip into the jar!)
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