Last summer I purchased some chili oil from a local farmers market and learned about the wonders of this condiment. Sadly, by the time I finished the jar the market was closed for the season. I looked into making it myself, having very little knowledge about exactly what dried chili flakes to use.
I went to New Central Market and they directed me to some pulverized Korean chilis, but they didn’t have the look of the stuff I normally see in Thai restaurants. They showed me a jar of dried chili flakes, which I bought, but I had a feeling they were too spicy for me.
The dried chilis sat in my cupboard for months. Then I started seeing targeted ads for Momofuku chili crunch, and I was intrigued as it looked like a turbo version of chili oil.
I found a jar of Dragonfly brand Spicy Chili Crisp with Peanuts at New Sagaya and had to give it a try. WOW! So much flavor. Not just spice, but smokiness, sweetness, saltiness, umami – this condiment packs a punch. I had to try to make it myself.
Chili crisp goes with anything. You can add it to ramen, fried rice, pizza, fried eggs – anything where you want to add a boost of flavor.
I based my recipe on this Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp from i am a food blog. I didn’t have all the ingredients in this recipe, but I also wanted to try to add some improvised flavors, such as Red Boat salt, which is a salt infused with fish sauce, and smoked paprika to give the chili crisp some smokiness.
After making a batch with my original dried chili peppers and developing a rash because it was so spicy (and I thought I could handle some spice!) I tried my recipe again but with regular dried chili flakes (the kind you sprinkle on pizza). These peppers are more mellow and produced a chili crisp that was so delicious I’m having trouble not eating it by the spoonful.
Chili Crisp with Peanuts and Fried Garlic
- 1/2 cup dried chili flakes
- 2 teaspoons Red Boat salt (or regular salt)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup neutral oil such as peanut
- 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced thin
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 scallions, white part only, sliced thin
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons dried chopped shallots (or onion)
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts.
In a heatproof medium bowl, add the chili flakes, salt, smoked paprika and sugar. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, add the oil, ginger, bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon stick, scallions, garlic, dried shallots and peppercorns. Heat over medium low for about 10 minutes or until the garlic and shallots are golden brown. Place a metal sieve in a large liquid measuring cup and strain the oil. Set aside the aromatics until cool.
Pour the oil back into the pan and heat until just smoking, 350F. Carefully pour the hot oil over the chili flakes. It will sizzle and bubble and start to turn orangey red. Let cool completely.
Meanwhile, discard the ginger, bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon stick and peppercorns (if you feel like picking through those, but they are probably ok to go into the chili oil). The crispy scallions, garlic and shallots should be all that’s left in the sieve.
Add the scallions, garlic, shallots and peanuts to the chili oil and stir to combine. Pour into a jar, cover and place in the fridge. My oil solidified a little bit in the fridge, but softens up quickly when placed on hot foods.