四川麻辣紅油 (Si Chuan Ma La Hong You)
紅油 Hong You, literally “Red Oil”, is a necessity for many Sichuan (四川) dishes such as MaPo DouFu. Well maybe not a necessity, but if you are missing it, you are missing out. Hong You is also (possibly more accurately) called 麻辣紅油 (mala hong you). The 麻 (Ma) is for the numbing sensation caused by the 花椒 (hua jiao)/Sichuan peppercorns. The 辣 (La) is for the heat provided by the copious amounts of chili peppers. However, Hong You is more than just about the heat (and numbing), it is a wonderfully fragrant flavoring oil. It adds depth and complexity to everything from noodle dishes to dumplings.
One spice I encourage you to find for this recipe is the 草果 Cao Guo, the chinese version of the black cardamom. Strictly speaking you can make Hong You without it, but it lends very distinct smokey and camphor like notes to the oil. It is usually not impossible to find. If your Chinese market doesn’t have any, check out the Vietnamese market. Since it is commonly used in their cuisine as well. As for the chilis I just use the dried Thai chilis, as they are cheap. If you want you can use the Korean chili powder, it does make a beautifully colored oil.
- 3 c. canola oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 2 scallions, white and light green parts only
- 8 slices of ginger
- 4 star anise
- 5 whole cloves
- 4 cao guo 草果 ( or black cardamom), cracked
- 4 bay leaves
- stick of cinnamon
- 4 T. Sichuan peppercorns 花椒
- 2 c. of dried chilis chopped or ground
- 1/4 c. toasted white sesame seeds
- Heat the oil, smashed garlic, ginger, and scallions in wok or a 2 qt. saucepan over medium heat until you see little bubbles coming off the ginger.
- Add the star anise, cloves, cao guo, bay leaves, cinnamon, and Sichuan peppercorns to the hot oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the garlic becomes lightly golden.
- Add the chopped or ground chilis and sesame seeds and simmer gently for 10 more minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool. Pour the oil mixture into a large bowl (if needed) and let sit for 24 to 48 hours.
- Strain the oil into a glass jar and store in the fridge.