I’ve always wanted to create my own chili oil. I love the idea of taking all the aromatics I love and putting them into my own condiment. That’s what this lemongrass chili oil is for me. It’s like my love letter to the ingredients that shape the food I love to eat. I still remember the first time I had chili oil. I was at my friend’s place for Chinese New Year, and her mom made a fresh batch of dumplings. They smelled so good! What really put these dumplings over the top for me though was the chili oil we used in the dipping sauce. That yummy oil combined with the umami flavors of each dumpling make me salivate just thinking about them!
This chili oil takes inspiration from that one and incorporates some of my favorite ingredients like lemongrass, star anise, and sesame seeds. But it also has favorites I normally don’t cook with like Sichuan peppercorns. The canvas on which I paint this flavor palette is this Filippo Berio Extra Light Olive Oil. It provides the perfect base for all these aromatic flavors.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
Filippo Berio Extra Light Olive Oil
Traditionally, chili oils are made with some type of neutral oil like vegetable or grapeseed oil. The reason for that is that neutral oil has a high smoke point and has no flavor. The beauty of this Extra Light Olive Oil from Filippo Berio is that it acts similarly to neutral oils. It has a higher smoke point and it has a light olive flavor. This allows the oil to take on the flavors from the aromatics below without producing a rancid flavor.
Coriander, sichuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and star anise
The oil in this recipe is infused with the flavors from these spices. I got the inspiration for these spices from my own pho recipe. I wanted a really deep, umami flavor. One particular spice I wanted to call out is the Sichuan peppercorn. This peppercorn is from the Sichuan region in China. The major difference between this peppercorn and black peppercorns is that Sichuan peppercorns leave your mouth with a slightly tingly feeling. The tingly feeling causes your mouth to salivate, enhancing the flavors of the other savory ingredients. If there are any spices on this list you particularly don’t like or can’t find, you can leave them out.
Shallot, lemongrass, and garlic
These ingredients add more flavor to the oil. I love the combination of sweet, slightly sour, garlicky flavor these ingredients add.
The chili flakes provide heat and flavoring to this chili oil. Chili flakes you find at most grocery stores work great for this recipe, but I would highly recommend Sichuan chili flakes for the best flavor. Sichuan chili flakes are made from Sichuan chili peppers which have a spicy and slightly lemony flavor. The flavor is actually hard to describe but it’s way better than regular chili flakes in my opinion.
Adds a different texture to the chili oil. If you don’t love sesame seeds, definitely feel free to leave them out.
Brings out the flavor of the other ingredients in the chili oil.
Making my lemongrass chili oil
First, add chili flakes and sesame seeds to a bowl. Mix and set aside. Next, make your infused oil. Add Filippo Berio Extra Light Olive Oil, coriander, Sichuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, star anise, shallot, lemongrass, and garlic to a small saucepan. Heat over medium low and let it simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. The longer you simmer the oil, the better the flavor will be. After simmering, make sure the oil is at 225 – 250 degrees F. Use a candy thermometer for this. This temperature results in a lighter chili oil where the chili flakes are moderately toasted. If you want a darker, more toasted chili oil, bring the temperature up to 250 – 300 degrees F.
Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve. Add chili flakes and sesame seeds to a bowl. Pour infused oil over both. Add salt and serve!
Tips on how to make the perfect lemongrass chili oil
- Use a candy thermometer to get the oil temperature right – Temperature is an important part of making good chili oil. Too high and the chili flakes will burn. Too low and the oil won’t take on any of the aromatic flavors. That’s why I used a candy thermometer to ensure that the oil temperature is where I want it to be.
- Customize the flavor profile to your tastes – I sort of mentioned this in the ingredients section, but definitely customize the aromatics to your tastes. If there is a spice or ingredient you don’t like or can’t find, leave it out. The only required ingredients here are the chili flakes, salt, and oil. You should have a chili oil that tastes the way YOU want it to taste.
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Thank you to Filippo Berio for sponsoring this post.
Lemongrass Chili Oil
- 1 cup Filippo Berio Extra Light Olive Oil
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 star anise
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 shallot halved
- 2 stalks lemongrass cut into chunks
- 3 cloves garlic smashed
- ¼ cup chili flakes
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- ½ tsp salt
- Add chili flakes and sesame seeds to a bowl or jar. Set aside.
- Add Filippo Berio Extra Light Olive Oil, coriander, fennel seeds, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, shallot, lemongrass, and garlic to a sauce pan. Heat over medium low heat and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.
- After simmering, make sure the oil reaches 225-250 degrees F. This results in a lighter chill oil where the sesame seeds are moderately toasted. If you want a darker, more toasted chili oil, bring the oil up to 250-300 degrees F.
- Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve.
- Add chili flakes and sesame seeds to a bowl. Pour infused oil over both. Add salt and serve!
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