Chinese Chilli Oil

Not for the faint of heart… A classic accompaniment you see in all the Chinese Restaurants, except this one has the sophistication of different spices. Use it parsimoniously !

1 Cup of Sunflower or Canola Oil
3 Tablespoon Szechuan Peppers
1 Cinnamon Stick – 3-4cm
2 Bay Leaves
6 Star Anise
8 Cardamom Pods – Break them open with a mortar
1/2 Cup of Thai or any Asian Chilli powder

1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Garlic cloves roughly chopped

In a heavy base saucepan, pour in the oil and keep at very low heat.

In a separate small frying pan, toast the star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, Szechuan peppercorns and cardamom pods over medium-high heat until they just start to smoke. Then add these spices to the warm oil.
Turn the heat up to medium and wait for the spices to gently sizzle. Cook at a gentle sizzle for about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Place the chilli powder, garlic and salt in a heat-proof jar or bowl. Strain the oil over the chilli salt mixture and pour over very slowly, as it often splatters. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick and star anise back into the oil mixture and gently stir. Allow to cool before storing in an airtight jar.
Keep at room temperature… be patient… it gets better after a week, when all the spices have had time to impart their perfume
Be careful, this is highly addictive… you will catch yourself using it for everything .

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