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Sichuan Chilli Oil - specifically this brand - is one of those things that I love introducing to people. You would think it was seriously firey with the dark red colour and floating chilli flakes but it's really quite aromatic and only becomes overwhelming with too many spoonfuls. Even then, it's so good. I really wanted to lean in to those lesser used wild spices in my own larder that I thought could make their place here - hogweed seed as an alternative to sichuan peppercorns and alexander seeds and three cornered leek to add aroma. I have also used channelled wrack to emulate that crispy texture and some not foraged but home grown and home dried chillis to give that kick. This is good on everything, I promise.
This recipe doesn't have any precise measurements which doesn't seem very helpful but the idea is that you tailor it to your own tastes. In fact feel free to add in things you like - toasted sesame seeds or peanuts, wild garlic, wild fennel seeds, flowers, other seaweeds. It will be your own entirely custom and seasonal condiment. This recipe owes a lot to the brilliant Woks of Life.
You will need
A medium sized pot for frying
A metal sieve or strainer for scooping
A heat proof bowl or additional pan for straining into
Clean and sterilised jar
Makes about 1 standard jam jar
Handful of dried hogweed seeds cracked
About a spoonful of alexanders seeds cracked
Handful of chopped three cornered leek or wild garlic plus a little reserved
A of handful of seaweed washed very well and dried - dulse, channelled wrack or sea lettuce would work well.
A few spoons of dried chilli flakes or whole chillis - as many as you would like!
Neutral oil - about 300ml - you may need less
Salt to taste
The first job is to crisp up the seaweed. It is really important that your seaweed is very very dry so take time to wring it with a tea towel. Pour about half of the oil into your pan. It should fill a few centimetres at the bottom. Heat your oil to a medium - high heat. Be careful - don't take your eyes off this. To check if it is ready drop a little bit of the seaweed in. It should bubble and crisp up. Seaweed burns easily so don't leave it in there too long. Fry the seaweed in batches and allow to drain and cool a little before adding to your heatproof bowl. Add the chilli to the bowl and some seasoning.
Add the remaining oil to the same pan and allow the temperature to drop down until it is just warm. Place your hogweed seed, alexanders seed and three cornered leek into the pan place back over a medium heat and allow to come up to a gentle simmer until there are little bubbles coming from the aromatics. Leave these to flavour your oil for as long as you can - I left mine in for about 15 minutes. Once you're happy that the oil is infused arrange your sieve or strainer over the heat proof bowl and pour the oil onto the chillis and seaweed. Again, take care to do this. The chillies will bubble up and look very pretty! This frying of the chilli is really important for flavour but if it seems to scary you can wait for the oil to come down to a more reasonable temperature and then pour it in. Add the warm mix to a sterilised jar. You may want to adjust seasoning once the oil is cool. Drizzle on eggs, rice, french toast, fish etc. etc. etc....
Wild Chilli Oil
Wild Spiced Chilli Oil
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