January 18, 2024
Sichuan Chili Crisp
“An oil with electrifying spices and peppers, this condiment is a marriage of texture, flavor and heat.” – Jing Gao
Yield: Makes 3 cups
Make Chili Powder
- Remove stems of chilis and cut into segments.
- In wok or frying pan over medium-low heat, warm oil. Add chilis to pan, stirring for 3 to 4 minutes, until chilis smell very aromatic and deepen in colour to bright red. Remove pan from heat and let cool.
- Using mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind chilis to powder. It’s up to you whether to grind them to fine powder or leave coarse. Recipe makes 1/3 cup chili powder. Double or triple recipe, as necessary. Use immediately or store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
Make Ground Roasted Sichuan Pepper
- Heat wok or frying pan over low heat and add Sichuan pepper, stirring with spatula to toast evenly. Toast, 3 to 4 minutes, making sure not to burn the pepper. Good Sichuan pepper will still have a lot of oils and fragrance that will release as you toast it. Remove wok from heat and set aside to cool.
- Using mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind pepper to fine powder. The inner husk of the Sichuan pepper is hard to grind and will be quite visible. It has no taste, so sift it out for the best flavour experience. I usually pass mine through a fine-mesh strainer. Use the Sichuan pepper immediately.
Make Chili Crisp
- In large wok or frying pan over high heat, warm rapeseed oil to 350°F on instant-read thermometer. Add cassia bark, star anise and cardamom. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until fragrances have been released into oil. (You’ll know when this has happened when the spices stop bubbling in the oil.) Pour oil through fine-mesh strainer and discard spices.
- Add garlic, ginger and preserved black beans to oil and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Bring oil to 260°F and add Ground Chili Powder, mushroom powder, salt and Ground Roasted Sichuan Pepper, stirring to combine until salt is fully dissolved. Remove wok from heat and let ingredients simmer in hot oil for a few minutes. Stir in sesame oil, shallots and garlic. Allow mixture to cool.
- Transfer sauce to airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 6 months or in refrigerator for up to 12 months. You can use the chili crisp right away, but since the flavour develops over time, you’ll find it intensifying after a few days and even more so after a few weeks. Since the solid bits will settle at the bottom, make sure to always mix up the chili oil with a spoon before each use!
The Book of Sichuan Chili Crisp by Jing Gao. ©2023 Jing Gao. Photography by Yudi Ela Echevarria and Robert Nilsson. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved