Note: Olive oil can be used, but for a more annato-forward flavor, use a neutral oil like corn or canola.
About the author: Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.
- Yield:makes about 1 cup
- Active time: 5 minutes
- Total time:5 minutes
- 1/4 cup annato seeds
- 2 chiles de arbol
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup oil (see note above)
Toast annato, chiles, and bay leaf in a small saucepan on medium heat until spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add oil and let it heat through until annato seeds begin to bubble and fry.
Reduce heat to low and cook until oil turns a dark, ruddy red, about 4 minutes (spices should continue to very gently sizzle the whole time). Remove from heat and strain into a glass jar or plastic squeeze bottle. Store in a dark place at room temperature for up to three months (oil will continue to be edible but will lose some flavor after this time).