Pequin Chile Oil
We like food with a kick. And we like kicky food that’s got some complexity and nuance—it’s not all about the heat here! So when we decided to make some Pequin Chile Oil, a spicy finishing oil that dresses up everything from salads to steak, we made it with a little something…extra.
Pequin Chiles are deceptively cute and little, and you’ll find it takes about 50 pequin peppers to make up an ounce. But these little fellas pack a wallop; they measure at 30,000-60,000 SHU, so at their lowest end they’re at least as hot as a cayenne pepper. They are relatively thin-skinned, so they’re easy to burn if left unattended. Keep an eye on these peppers during the dry toasting on the stove top, stir them often, and pull them off the heat when you can smell the spicy aroma start to rise off them.
The misnamed Sichuan Peppercorns are not peppercorns but rather, the pod of a fruiting bush, and have a spicy, numbing quality that’s unique unto them. They also have a citrusy flavor which is further brought out by the orange zest in oil. And everything goes with garlic, right? We used six garlic cloves in this recipe because our love for garlic runs deep, but if it seems like a little too much for you, use less!
It’s important to use a neutral oil in this recipe, because strong flavors, like a heady extra-virgin olive oil, could eclipse the flavors of the ingredients. You could use any other oil you like; we used grapeseed oil, but feel free to use canola oil, or safflower oil. Even a light olive oil would work here, because that grade of olive oil is not laden with the rich taste of olives.
This Pequin Chile Oil should last, unrefrigerated, for about a month, and if you keep it in the fridge it will be good for three months. It’s a great accent for all sorts of dishes; use it to top noodles or potatoes, garnish chicken or steak, mix with vinegar for a thrilling salad dressing, or add extra pop to soups or chili with a little drizzle over the top.
1. Toast Pequin Chiles over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes stirring frequently to prevent burning.
2. Combine chiles and peppercorns in a spice grinder or food processor and pulse briefly.
3. Heat oil over medium-low heat and add all the ingredients.
4. Simmer gently for 20 minutes, then pour into a jar.
5. Allow the oil to infuse for at least 12 hours then strain out the solids.