Reprinted from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop. Copyright 2012 by Fuchsia Dunlop. Photographs copyright 2012 by Cris Terry. Published by W.W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (500 ml) cooking oil
- 4 ounces (100g) SIchuanese or Korean ground chillies
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Small piece of ginger, unpeeled, crushed
Heat the oil over a high flame to about 400 degrees, then leave for 10 minutes to cool to around 275 degrees.
Place the ground chillies, sesame seeds, and ginger in a heatproof bowl. Have a little cool oil or a cupful of water on hand. When the oil has cooled to the right temperature, pour a little on to the chillies; it should fizz gently but energetically and release a rich, roasty aroma. Pour over the rest of the oil and stir. If you think the oil is too hot and the chillies are likely to burn, simply add a little cool oil to release the excess heat. Do, though, make sure that the oil is hot enough: without the fizzing, it won't generate the rich, roasty fragrance you need. If you pour all the oil on to the chillies, then discover it's not quite hot enough, you can return the whole lot to a saucepan and heat gently until it smells fabulous and the color is a deep ruby red, but do take care as not to burn the chillies. (The chillies will seethe and fizz like a witch's cauldron as you heat them, releasing the most marvellous aromas, but can easily start to burn and blacken.)
When the oil has cooled completely, decant it and the chilli sediment into jars and store in a dark, cool place. Leave it to settle for at least a day before using.