I like a little kick in almost everything that I cook, but even if you’re on the lower end of “spice tolerance,” chili oil is a bright, flavorful condiment to keep in your refridgerator. You can purchase ready-made chili oil, but it is usually produced with roasted seseme oil and intended as a finishing oil – not a cooking oil. In many dishes where chili oil would add a nice zing – sautés, pizza topping, risotto, etc. – the flavor of seseme would either be too overpowering, or just plain off-putting. No problem! You can easily and very cheaply make your own chili oil with a neutral, high-temp-friendly base oil. Remember, the chilis will continue to release heat into the oil as it is stored, so always test a bit before adding to any dish or recipe!
Homemade Chili Oil
2 cups nuetral cooking oil, such as safflower
3 fresh serrano or dutch chilis*
3 dried thai chilis
In a heavy-bottomed pot or ceramic-lined dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of the oil until it shimmers. Add the fresh chilis and garlic, thingly sliced, as well as the dried chilies. Saute carefully until the chilis begin to release their heat (you’ll smell them!), but do not let the chilies brown. Remove from heat, add the remaining oil, and stir. Store in an airtight jar in the refridgerator for up to two months.
*You may used whatever kind of chili you prefer – ancho, chipotle, etc. The flavor of your oil will change accordinging.