Red Chile Oil
MAKES 3/4 CUP
Many Chinese cooks use this robustly flavored oil in many of their dishes.
1 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup chopped dried red chiles
1. Heat peanut oil in a wok or medium saucepan over high heat until hot but not smoking (340°-350° on a candy thermometer). Add dried chiles, then remove wok from heat and set aside to cool. Strain oil through a fine sieve. Refrigerate in a sealed jar for up to 6 months.
Variation: For Sichuan peppercorn oil (hua jiao you), substitute 1/4 cup Sichuan peppercorns for the red chiles and proceed as above. Chiang recommends sprinkling this oil on already cooked foods. Don't use it to stir-fry. The heat will destroy the flavor and make it bitter. It's best on spicy dishes, for it brings out their flavor.