Do not confuse this with vegetable oil, which is commonly used for stir-frying and deep-frying food. Chili oil is a flavoring agent; a little of this will go a long way. Add it to dressings and sauces to give them a spicy finish, or use it as a dipping sauce for dumplings. Like sesame oil, chili oil is widely available in stores, but I prefer to make my own. It’s really quite easy, and you can control the level of hotness.
Yield: Makes 2 cups
2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup dried red chile flakes
In a 1-quart pan, combine the oil and chile flakes. Heat over medium-low heat until the chiles have infused the oil with their flavor, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool completely. Let sit at room temperature overnight for a stronger chile flavor.
Strain the chili all through a fine sieve into a glass jar. The oil will keep at room temperature for up to 1 month.