Spilling the tea: Tim's tasty tips on chilli oil


By Tim Quiney, Deputy Food Editor

The Croft Magazine // Most student houses or halls have an assortment of, but often unused, spices. I cannot recommend enough rounding up your forgotten dried spices to make your own chilli oil. Especially as it's cheaper – and tastier –than buying a branded version.

It is super easy to make your own chilli oil. You don't need to go and buy expensive/fancy olive oil either – a cheap vegetable oil will do so you can really bloom the dried chilli flakes.  

Just heat enough oil to slightly underfill your chosen jar/bottle, but do not allow it to start smoking. The best way to tell when the oil is hot is by dipping the handle of a wooden spoon a little into the oil and small bubbles should sizzle around it.

Drizzling chilli oil over food makes it taste and look better| Tim Quiney / Epigram

Next, using a heat-proof large saucepan, carefully pour the hot oil over around three tablespoons' worth of your choice of dried spices – definitely crushed dried chilli flakes but black peppercorn, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cumin seed, all work well. Literally include whatever flavours you also like.  

Let it sizzle and then cool for longer than you think (hours) – the oil will be much hotter than it looks. (N.B. if you are planning on using very hot dried chilli flakes then maybe keep a window open.)

Survival guide: cooking in halls

When completely cool, you can then pour the oil into a glass jar/bottle and drizzle on everything… pizza, fried rice, roasted vegetables, tacos, pastas, salads, eggs, on top of curries, soups and dips and even marinating meats (swirl oil into yoghurt for the easiest meat marinade ever).  Its use is limitless.

Drizzling spiced oil over anything just makes it better, flavour and looks, and it feels fancy too.  Blooming the dry spices in the hot oil means they will release their oil and literally more flavour than just chucking into liquid, so now you have your own chilli oil to turn those lazy Saturday morning eggs on toast into brunch.

Featured Image: Tim Quiney/Epigram

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