Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Toast Topper # 20: Spicy Chili Oil

Summer means turning up the heat, whether it be campfires or grills. But that heat is also front and centre on the plate. Even though the nights of long-simmered stews and chili are past, there are few cookouts that I can remember where there wasn't a spicy bowl of salsa, guacamole or at least a dish of Spicy Italian Peppers in Sauce to top the burgers and dogs.

One of the new family favourites around here is homemade pizza. This was actually my stepbrother and his fiancee's doing - after he picked up a giant restaurant-issue pizza peel at the local supply house with a mind to become the next Luigi. Ironically, neither of them are skilled in the kitchen (Nicole can do the basic pasta and occasionally broiled chicken breasts, while my stepbrother Dan just learned how to make an omelet on the stove a few months back after a steady diet of ramen), but they took the task to hand with storebought dough (as well as a just-add-water-and-oil mix I gave them) and have since been making respectable pies both in the oven and on our charcoal grill.

Given that my stepfamily in general are fans of anything spicy, as soon as I found out they had bought a house I cooked up a batch of this spicy chili oil as a housewarming gift. It only gets better with age, as the hot peppers from the garden that I dried last year absorb and release the flavourless canola oil surrounding them. Of course, if you don't have home-dried Thai chilies, you can find any assortment of whole peppers on the shelf of your local ethnic market (and even in some better-stocked grocery stores). Pick the ones you like - but I would err on the side of hotter ones, since you're only using them as flavouring, not eating them whole!

Whether it's jazzing up homemade pizza dough, drizzling on focaccia, dunking crusty rolls, whipping up vinaigrette or even spicing up dessert, I'm sure you'll find space in your cupboard for a bottle (or two) of this oil.

Spicy Chili Oil
Makes 1 1/2 litres (6 cups), 48 2-tbsp servings
10 whole dried Thai chillies
6 cups flavourless oil (I used canola)
1/3 cup crushed red pepper flakes
16 dried Thai chillies, chopped
  1. Divide the whole chillies between storage bottles. Set aside.
  2. Combine the oil, red pepper flakes and chopped chillies in a saucepan and bring to the barest simmer.
  3. Cook 10 minutes, remove from heat.
  4. Using a funnel, fill the bottles or jars, using a chopstick to push any larger pieces of chili into the bottles.
  5. Seal the bottles and keep in a cool, dry place for at least 1 week before using. 
  6. This gets better with age, but try to use within 1 year and keep it in a cool, dark place.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 240.9
Total Fat: 27.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 0.0 mg
Total Carbs: 0.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 0.0 g

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