For me, there is no other better lunchtime meal than a plate of steaming Dim Sum, but they has to be accompanied by a generous helping of Chilli Oil. Not only are the Dim Sum fascinating little dumplings in themselves, but it is the Oil that fascinates me even more.
I always thought the non vegetarian Chilli Oil has Shrimps or Shrimp paste with a good measure of Fish Sauce added; where as the vegetarian version has crushed Garlic added to the Chilli flakes with hot Oil mixed in.
How wrong was I! It is more than just those ingredients mentioned above, it is actually about the flavour in the Oil that flavours the Chilli Oil.
|De Cayenne Chilli Plant|
All the varieties of chillies grown this year were started from seed, in January of this year. In the past starting them in Spring, gave me a shorter harvest season. By starting them as early as January, has given the best chilli harvests from June, right up until October end. From as mild as Capsicum and Padron Peppers to the Scotch Bonnets and Bhut Jolokia Chillies. Starting the seeds this early will be repeated every year from now on.
Here’s my version of the Chilli Oil using home grown organic, dried De Cayenne Chillies.
First step in this recipe is getting the dried chillies to a chilli flakes. This process, at home, is for the bravest; deseeding and grinding the chillies are a no mean feat.
If you plan to make you own flakes:
Word of warning, do not open the grinder straight away, allow the contents to settle a little before opening the lid, it will save you a lot of ‘coughing and crying’ that follows after opening the grinder lid.
Or just use shop bought ready crushed flakes. Only purchase chilli flake packs, that has fewer seeds and a lot more crushed flakes. In my recipe I have used 5 tablespoons of Chilli flakes, 2 of which I had to add shop bought flakes.
(Note to self: grow a lot more of these De Cayenne chillies; as this variety is a very good all rounder chilli from the young green stage right up to dried stage).
Roughly chop half of a medium sized onion and 2 whole bulbs of Garlic, (add more if you like the oil to be more Garlicky than Chilli) and blitz them in a food processor. In a hot pan place a tablespoon of Rapeseed Oil and the onion garlic mix, turn the heat down to medium heat and stir the mixture constantly. All the moisture in this mix needs to be removed. This process will take at least 20 minutes, but patience is required as a dry golden mixture should be achieved and not burned.
Remove the pan off the heat and allow mixture to cool. Meanwhile prep the ingredients for the Oil Flavouring.
You can, just heat the oil and add to the Garlic Chilli flake mix, but by flavouring the Oil it helps to enhance the Final Product, well worth the effort.
Place in a Pan 250ml of Rapeseed Oil together with Star Anise, Mace, Cassia Bark, Sichuan Pepper, Long Pepper, Bay Leaf, 1 clove of a bruised Garlic and a small piece of Onion.
Long Pepper has a sweeter aroma than the ordinary black pepper AND packs a much more powerful spicy heat than the black pepper. If you cannot get hold of long pepper use black pepper.
Place the pan of Oil on a very low heat, and gently heat the Oil. This gentle heating will help release the flavours of the added Spice ingredients. The process of releasing flavours can take up to 30 minutes, until you notice the onion and garlic are turning golden brown.
Now strain the contents of the Oil into a jug making sure every tiny piece of spice has been removed from the Pan. Pour the strained Oil back into the used Pan and place back on Cooker. Now turn up the heat.
Whilst the Oil is heating up add the cooled onion garlic mix to the Chilli flakes, making sure it is all evenly mixed in.
Keep an eye on the Oil, once you notice is has started to smoke, turn the heat off and carefully pour a little at a time into the Chilli flake mixture. Hot Oil on contact with the cool chilli flakes with sizzle and bubble therefore add a little at a time, carefully stirring, until all the Oil has been added.
Allow to cool before transferring into a clean sterilised jar. Oil will keep for 6 months in a cool dark cupboard.