Chilli Oil

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Some like it hot

At this time of year I like to make some store cupboard and freezer staples that will pep up our cooking over the coming months. Things like flavoured oils and pickles, even sauces like Pesto, Picada, Chimichuri and Romesco which, whilst always best freshly prepared, freeze perfectly well.

I covered pesto in my last post, now on to Chilli Oil. Over Easter I found myself down in Kent visiting my Mother and her partner and as mentioned we visited the Broadstairs Spring Food Festival. It wasn’t the biggest food festival I’ve attended, but they did have a nice selection of local produce.

As I was travelling by train I couldn’t treat myself to much fresh produce, instead I satisfied myself with some purchases from the Kent Chilli Farm who had a stall and offer I couldn’t resist – a swing top bottle and chillies from their excellent pick ‘n’ mix selection to make your own chilli oil, all for for £3.50. I took two!

I wanted one classic Mediterranean style, relatively mild, chilli oil that you commonly find in Italian restaurants and a much fiercer Asian version. I ended up with these:

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As a big Chilli fan I’d love to say I hand picked the particular chillies for each oil with due consideration for their individual attributes, but to be honest when dealing with the sheer number of varieties the Kent Chilli Farm offer I can’t pretend to know my Aji Omnicolor from my Numex Twilight. As such I told the helpful stand staff what I was after in the flavour profile of each oil and they made the selections for me.

Making Chilli oil is an incredibly simple process, you simply need to heat an oil of your choosing to 180 °C, lower the heat as far as it will go and allow the oil to cool before adding your flavouring ingredients, cook for a few mins and then leave to steep in the warm oil off the heat.

The important things to note are:

  • It is important to heat your oil to 180 °C to kill off any bacteria responsible for botulism that may be present.
  • It is vital you don’t add your flavouings at this heat – they will just burn, lower the temperature and leave the oil to acclimatise before adding.
  • As your oil will be heated to a high temperature you need to use an oil with an appropriate smoke point, here’s a handy list. I tend to use regular olive oil for European style oils and groundnut (peanut) or rapeseed oil for Asian style oils.
  • Don’t give someone with a nut allergy a chilli oil made from a nut based oil! It may seem a silly thing to have to say, but I’ve made the mistake before by accident – thankfully without consequence. As it happens most nut allergy sufferers should be fine to consume refined nut oil, but why take the chance?
  • Sterilise the bottles or jars you will be using to store your chilli oil by boiling them in water for 15 mins.

Other than that, have fun creating!

Choosing your chillies!

This is obviously completely up to you, my only advice is to think about the character you are trying to achieve in your finished product. Whilst it is not always the case, picking geographically appropriate chillies to the chilli oil you are trying to create is a good place to start – i.e. if you are looking for an Asian style chilli oil use Asian chillies!

I tried my best to keep up with the chillies the Kent Chilli Farm folk selected for my mixes, but after having also sampled some of the local real ale on sale I can’t testify to the accuracy of my reporting! However I think it was something along the lines of:

Mediterranean Chilli Oil:

2 x Adorno chillies
1 x Aurora chilli
1 x Cherry Bomb chilli
1 x Super Chilli

Asian Chilli Oil:

1 x Aji Limon chilli
1 x Speedball chilli
1 x Habanero Paper Lantern chilli
1 x Aji Omnicolor chilli
1 x Super Chilli

P.S.

Another stall at the food festival we visited was hosted by bit spicy – I’m not normally one to go for pre-made spice mixes but we were really quite taken by some of the blends they had on offer. They all rely on a simple base “secret sauce” combined with one of their spice mixes. We particularly liked their Indonesian Sulawesi, Malay Chicken and Goan Green curry mixes which my Mother ended up buying – I’ll wait to hear her feedback when she tries them, but we enjoyed them on the day.

bit spicy

They have a whole load of recipes on their website which are well worth a look, and also have a 20% off your first online order offer, simply enter code easter2016 at checkout to get the discount.

Spice up your life!

 

Recipe:

Cooking time: 30 mins

INGREDIENTS

Mediterranean Chilli Oil:

5 Whole dried chillies of your choosing (see note above)
2 Tbsp Peperoncino chilli flakes
1 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
3 Fresh Bay leaves
340ml Olive Oil

Asian Chilli Oil:

5 Whole dried chillies of your choosing (see note above)
2 Tbsp Gochugaru or other Asian Chilli flakes
2 Star anise
1 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
3 Fresh Bay leaves
340ml Groundnut oil

A note on quantities:

The bottles I used to store the oil were around 350ml capacity, so I used an appropriate quantity of oil. If you are using bigger storage containers scale up the quantities of ingredients accordingly.

METHOD

Mediterranean  Chilli Oil:

Sterilise the bottle or jar you will be using to store the oil for 15 mins in boiling water.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan to 180 °C. Reduce the heat to it’s lowest setting and leave the oil to really reduce in temperature before adding the rest of the ingredients – except for the

Cook for 5 mins at the lowest possible temperature, take off the heat and leave to infuse until cool.

Decant the contents of the saucepan into your bottle or jar and seal. Leave for a couple of weeks before using.

Asian Chilli Oil:

Sterilise the bottle or jar you will be using to store the oil for 15 mins in boiling water.

Heat the groundnut oil in a saucepan to 180 °C. Reduce the heat to it’s lowest setting and leave the oil to really reduce in temperature before adding the rest of the ingredients except for the Gochugaru, set this aside.

Cook for 5 mins at the lowest possible temperature, take off the heat and leave to infuse until approaching blood temperature. Remove the star anise and discard.

Add the Gochugaru to your bottle or jar and decant the remaining, still warm, contents of the saucepan into your bottle or jar, leave to cool completely and seal. Leave for a couple of weeks before using.

A note on storing chilli oil:

To be completely safe you should store your chilli oil in the fridge and use within a month. I have to say I have never, ever done this – the bottles get added to our store cupboard and sit there for months, I’ve never had any issue or problem, but you have been warned!

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