Last week in the mail an Amazon order for a few new cookbooks finally arrived at my doorstep (well actually at the postoffice at our local grocery store, but whatevs.) One of the books was Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice. After devouring much of the book in one go, I set off to Stockholm's biggest China Market to stock up on a few new cooking ingredients. I of course have the usual soy sauce and sesame oil at home but I was super eager to try chili bean paste, fermented black beans, and Shaoxing cooking rice wine.
For awhile now I've been really interested in learning Asian cooking techniques and testing out more authentic Asian flavors. Before I've been a bit obsessed with Japanese, and Vietnamese cooking, now it's China's turn. Fuchsia's book feels really authentic to me while still catering to European tastes and supermarket availability. (Like I'm not too interested in cooking with lots of innards, or bones, but I'm really really interested in all of the fragrant sauces.)
The sauce that I am most excited about learning, is Fuchsia's homemade fragrant chili oil. My first thought was that it would be nuclear hot considering the almost neon red brightness of the color and the scary amount of chili powder added but it truly is gorgeously delicious with only a slight heat. After making it and using it in these Sichuan dishes last weekend I've also been adding it to as much as I can think of from a drizzle on lasagna or an egg salad sandwich. The oil was especially delicious on the homemade pork dumplings.
Fuchsia's Fragrant Chili Oil:
(I halved her recipe and didn't add quite as much chili powder, cuz I'm a scaredy cat, but it turned out wonderful all the same. Maybe next time I'll add the full 50g of chili powder.)
• 250ml vegetable oil (I used Rapseed oil)
• 40g ground chili powder (bought at the Asian market, this should be either Sichuan chilis or Korean chili powder, def not Mexican... though that would probably be gorgeous on tacos, hehe.)
• tsp grated fresh ginger
• 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
Using a thermometer heat oil a saucepan (carefully of course) to 200°C. Once it hits 200°C turn off the heat and allow to cool to 140°C. Meanwhile in a heat proof container (I used a 500ml pickling jar) pour in the chili powder, ginger and sesame seeds. When the oil cools to 140°C pour over the chili powder mixture and watch as it sizzles and becomes insanely fragrant. If it seems like the chilis are burning you can pour in a little regular oil... obviously you are also being really carefully not to burn your hands when pouring sizzling oil too right?! This is ready to use already the next day, just mix around the sediment at the bottom to loosen before using. (Oh and don't wear white!)
I can't even begin to describe how gorgeously delicious this oil is. Please try it!