Thursday, September 26, 2019

Chili Oil (Jeaw Mak Phet) and Shallot Oil

I love using Chili Oil and Shallot Oil as condiments. They are often seen in many Asian restaurants. They are used for Dim Sum, Congee, in Noodle bowls such as Ramen, Khao Piek Sen, Pho, etc. Just about anything you want to add spice or garlic/shallot flavor to. They are also used in cooking, for stir fry and soup bases. In Laos this would be called Jeaw Mak Phet.
As with a lot of cooking there are no set measurements for these oils.  Play with the flavor combinations to come up with your favorite. In Chinese Chili Oil there is often bay leaf, star anise, sesame seeds sometimes cinnamon. I know the local Ramen place near me adds Sichuan peppercorn which I love and add to mine.  

The shallot and garlic oil is made with shallots and ginger. It gives so much flavor without a lot of heat. It's great to use as a condiment or for stir fry. I feel like this is the most time consuming because of all the peeling of garlic and shallots. I'm grateful for food processors when making these oils. A mortar and pestle is traditional but takes a long time. 

For my Chili Oil I like whole dried peppers, I tried to skip the step of toasting them and grinding them myself and got a bad batch of chili pepper flakes once. I have used Tien Tsin Chili peppers (shown above) and Thai chili peppers.  I like the Tien Tsin because it's easier to find for me. I get them from Penzey's.
As far as oil goes I like to use a neutral flavored oil that has a higher smoking point. Avocado oil is great it has a high smoking point and is neutral in flavor. I also like olive oil for it's health benefits also, though some people find it to be fruity in flavor.  When I use olive oil I add a little bit of avocado oil to it. The oil isn't going to get extremely hot but I prefer to add the avocado oil because it's got that higher smoking point. Vegetable oil, canola oil can also be used. I have not used coconut oil though. I think that might be over powering.

The chili can be ground as fine as you like it. I like it a little more finely ground than pictured but I was also ready to be done. I use a spice grinder or blender depending on how big of a batch I am making. I also use them for the Sichuan and black peppercorns. 

For ingredients like garlic, shallots, fresh lemongrass, even ginger I use the food processor. I know some people like their shallots sliced into thin rings. It looks prettier but I like the convenience of this and will take that over pretty any day. If making fried shallots for garnish than slicing is a must for me.

Warning before making the chili oil. It can very well make you cough especially when toasting the peppers and grinding them. Take precautions so you aren't inhaling all sorts of chili powder.

A quick note on cooking. Do not let the oil get too hot. It's easier to continue cooking slowly than to have to start all over with fresh ingredients. DO NOT LET YOUR OIL GET TOO HOT.

This is the bad batch of dried chili pepper flakes I purchased a while back. The chili was a little clumpy and looked like it had gotten wet. On top of that there was MOLD. Never again.

Chili Oil (Basic Jeaw Mak Phet)

8 ounces dried red chili peppers
1/4 cup garlic, peeled and minced (about 2-3 heads)
2-3 cups of oil such as avocado or olive
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

Method one:
  1. In a dry pan toast the chili peppers until fragrant, do not let them burn. A little color is okay. Set chilies aside and let them cool. This step gives a smokey flavor to the sauce. You can skip it if you are pressed for time. (Toast the peppercorns at the same time if using them.)
  2. Once cool, grind the peppers in a blender or use a spice grinder. (Grind the peppercorns at the same time if using them)
  3. Heat the oil until it starts to move around a bit, you do not want the oil too hot. If it is smoking, it's too hot. Take it off the heat. The oil should be around 200F. 
  4. Add garlic to the oil and cook until fragrant. Don't let the garlic burn.
  5. Add the peppers and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring. It is very important that the spices don't turn black, if they do they are burnt.
  6. Remove the pot from heat and let the chili oil cool.
  7. Store in an air tight container, this does not need refrigeration.
Method two:
  1. Follow steps one through four in the first method.
  2. Take the garlic oil off the heat.
  3. Place the peppers in a heat safe container.
  4. Slowly ladle the oil into the bowl with peppers. Starting with one ladle, then stir the mixture. It will bubble a bit but the peppers should not be turning black. If they are let the oil cool for a bit.
  5. Ladle remaining hot oil over the peppers and stir. 
  6. Let cool.
  7. Store in an air tight container, this does not need refrigeration.
Optional ingredients:
Shallots, minced. Ginger, sliced: Cook these at the same time you cook the garlic.
Bay leaf, 1-2 Star Anise, 2 inch cinnamon stick: Leave these whole and add when you add the peppers to the oil. Remove after mixture has cooled.
Sesame seeds: Add to the sauce after you take the pot off of the heat.

Shallot Oil

1/4 cup garlic, minced (about 2-3 heads)
8 ounces shallots, peeled and sliced thinly or minced with garlic
1-2 cups neutral flavored oil, such as avocado
Optional: 1/2 inch piece of ginger peeled and minced
  1. In a pot heat the oil on medium low heat. Do not let it smoke or get so hot that it burns the remaining ingredients, about 200F.
  2. Add remaining ingredients carefully and stir.
  3. Cook on low to medium low heat until lightly golden brown.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Store in an air tight container, this does not need to be refrigerated.

Fried Shallots

For Fried Shallots, slice the shallots thinly, Follow the cooking method above with only shallots, or whole a few whole garlic cloves if you'd like. Once golden brown, use a slotted spoon to remove the shallots and garlic. Place them on a paper towel. The shallots can be used to garnish dishes. The oil that is reserved can be used for cooking.

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