Szechuan chilli oil

Szechuan chilli oil

4 × 300 ml jars

This is inspired by the famous chilli oil from China that you can find in Asian shops worldwide, with the grandma on it (Lao Gan Ma: ‘Old Godmother’), which is basically the godmother of all chilli oils. I figured that this amazing condiment would probably taste even better if made at home, from scratch, and I added a few Mexican chillies picked up from my travels along the way. And it’s goooood! Add this chilli oil to rice, ramen, or any Asian dish looking for a bit of a kick. It’s my go-to sauce for mixing with black vinegar when eating dumplings at home, and it’s especially great as a base for my favourite comfort dish of all time, Dan Dan Noodles.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
175g szechuan peppercorns
150g fermented black beans, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons crushed garlic
100g gochugaru (korean red chilli powder)
500ml sunflower oil
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, grated
250ml sesame oil
100g dried chillies, (chile de arbol, aguajillo, chipotle or dried hot red chilli of your choice)
220g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt


  1. In a dry pan, toast the cumin seeds and Szechuan peppercorns over low heat until aromatic. Remove from the heat and grind in a pestle and mortar, or a coffee or spice grinder, until fine.
  2. Put the fermented black beans, garlic, chilli powder, ground cumin and Szechuan peppercorns in a warmed sterilised jar (in this order).
  3. Add the sunflower oil to a pan and heat over medium to high heat until small bubbles start to form – but do not let it boil. Add the shallots and ginger and fry until just crispy and golden brown. Immediately remove from the heat (you want to make sure they don’t burn) and pour the hot oil, ginger and shallots over the spices and black beans in the jar. Stir.
  4. Using the same pan, add the sesame oil and set over medium to high heat until hot. Add the dried chillies and cook for 10 minutes until softened.
  5. Add the sugar and salt to the pan and stir until completely dissolved. Take off the heat and allow to cool briefly.
  6. Once cool enough to handle, transfer the chillies to a food processor or blender and process until you have a paste. Add to the jar and give everything a quick stir. Cover and allow to cool completely. The chilli oil will be ready to eat in 3–4 days and will last for 6 months. There’s no need to refrigerate this.
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