Infusing oil is easy and can result in some fantastically delicious flavors. Adding a bit of infused oil can turn a simple dish extraordinary and can pair delectably with a fine balsamic vinegar as dipping sauce to serve with sourdough bread. Infusing oil is as simple as warming it gently over the stove for 30-40 minutes with whatever flavor you want to be present in the oil. Garlic, basil, thyme, and red chilies is a classic combination. One of my favorite infusions is the Five Spice Garlic Chili Oil featured below, which not only keeps for weeks in the cupboard, but packs a ton of flavor bringing a rich base to Asian inspired dishes, and is also the quintessential dumping dipping sauce when combined with a bit of black vinegar and julienned fresh ginger.
Five Spice Garlic Chili Oil
6 Garlic Cloves (Peeled and Halved)
3 Fresh Green Onion (Coarsely Chopped)
2 Inch Piece Fresh Ginger (Coarsely Chopped)
1/2 Cup Coriander Seeds (Whole)
1/4 Cup Szechuan Peppercorns (Whole)
2 Tbsp. Szechuan Peppercorns (Ground)
2 Dried Red Chilies (Whole)
2 Tbsp. Dried Red Chilies (Crushed)
2 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Toasted Sesame Seeds
1 Tbsp. Onion Powder
1/2 Tbsp. Five Spice Blend
1 tsp. Ground White Pepper
In a large heat safe bowl combine the crushed red chilies, ground Szechuan peppercorn, toasted sesame seeds, onion powder, and white pepper. Make sure the bowl is very large in relation to the quantity of spice at this point. This is so everything has lots of extra room to bubble up once the hot oil is added later.
In a medium saucepan, combine oil, garlic, green onion, ginger, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, whole red chilies, and warm gently over a low heat for 30-40 minutes or until fragrant.
Remove infused oil from the heat and immediately stain though a fine metal strainer directly into the heat safe bowl and over the spice mixture. Be careful here as the hot oil will bubble up profusely once added to the spices.
Mix and let cool.
Add a bit to develop the flavor of any Asian inspired stir fry and soup or serve over dumplings.