Hot, spicy and with a distinctly different flavor from any we’ve had, the secret is not just the ingredients, but also the technique. Pan roasting and pounding in a mortar is a key technique. Seeping the chili mixture in hot oil draws out the flavors.
Whole Red Chili peppers (one part chili to 4 parts sesame seeds)
Whole roasted sesame seeds (from Asian Markets)
Neutral tasting oil (we use grape seed oil)
Cut the stems off the chili and cut into rough pieces. Toast the chili in a wok or cast iron pan until you can smell the aroma – stir occasionally. Pound the chili with a mortar and pestle. In a heat resistant container, add the pounded chili, a little salt (adjust later) and the toasted sesame seeds.
Heat the oil until hot and carefully pour over the chili sesame seed mixture generously covering the chili sesame mixture. The mixture should bubble. Mix and let cool. Adjust salt. Store chili oil in covered glass jars. When using, scoop out some of the ground chili sesame mixture with the oil. Good on everything!
Note: Be careful touching the chili and wash the wok or pan thoroughly.
* Hardworking gregarious Tony Lu (Lu Wei) our tour guide in China is a native of Xi’an, Shaanxi province. Xi’an -- west and south of Beijing -- was the center of ancient China. Tony made friends everywhere and they became his “cousins” meaning someone who he could go to for help and advice. After he gave Chris his family’s recipe for chili Oil, we decided to call it, “Cousin Tony’s Hot Chili Oil”.