Making Hongyou #2: Crispy Shallot Chili Oil


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shallot infused red oil in glass jar

Mala Sweet Hot

My pursuit of the perfect chili oil leads me to the conclusion that there is not just one. I like a pure, chili-flavored chili oil for most cooking, but after consuming so much Laoganma Spicy Chili Crisp and similarly fancy artisan chili oils I  bought from a street  vendor in Sichuan, I’ve decided I need to up my game with homemade chili oils. So here I give you Crispy Shallot Chili Oil. It packs a ton of flavor, but still not so much that it can’t be used widely and heavily on foods both Asian and Western.

It’s in the style of Spicy Chili Crisp, but without the secret ingredients, the MSG or the preservatives. Plus, it has a greater oil-to-solids ratio so that it can be used when chili oil is called for. The key is the sweet crispy shallots married with mala flavor—chili flakes and Sichuan  pepper.

ingredients for shallot chili oil
Chili oil mise en place

Here’s what to gather for this recipe:

  • Sichuan chili flakes. Sichuan makes their chili flakes by frying whole chilies in vegetable oil before grinding them into the perfect mix of flakes, powder and seeds. The frying makes for a distinctive flavor, color and texture that other chili flakes don’t have, but coarse Korean red pepper will do in a pinch.
  • Peanut oil, preferably made in China or Taiwan, as theirs have more flavor than American peanut oil.
  • Sichuan peppercorns, dry toasted in a pan until fragrant. Grind to a coarse powder in a spice or coffee grinder and sift out most of the yellow-husk bits that don’t break down.
ground chili flakes in dipping bowls
Sichuan chili flakes make a deep-red, moderately hot chili oil
Fry shallots on a low simmer until golden
Fry shallots on a low simmer until golden
chili oil ingredients
Pour hot shallot oil directly onto dry ingredients in heat-proof jar
shallot chili oil
Mala sweet and hot

Making Hongyou #2: Crispy Shallot Chili Oil

By: Taylor Holliday | The Mala Market | Cooking Sichuan in America


  • 2 cups peanut oil or canola oil (or mix of peanut oil and canola oil)
  • ½ cup Sichuan chili flakes (toasted and ground chilies with flakes and powder)
  • cup finely diced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground Sichuan pepper see note
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • ¼ cup sesame oil


  • Put Sichuan chili flakes, Sichuan pepper and salt in a heat-proof glass pint jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Heat oil in a small sauce pan on a medium-low flame until a test bit of shallot sizzles when it hits the oil. Add all shallots to the oil and fry slowly until they are golden brown, which should take several minutes. Watch closely, and do not burn them.
  • When flakes are nicely golden, immediately pour them and their oil into the jar on top of the chili flakes. (If your pan does not have a pour spout, transfer first to a glass measuring cup that does.) The oil should be at the correct temperature to lightly toast the chili flakes, which should sizzle a bit when the oil hits them. Let calm, then stir the oil to mix the ingredients. Leave to cool, then add sesame oil and mix well. Cool completely before capping with lid. Flavors are best after they have had a couple days to infuse.


Ground Sichuan pepper: Sort Sichuan peppercorns and discard any black seeds or twigs. Toast in a dry skillet or toaster oven until pods start to smell very fragrant, but do not brown them. Let peppercorns cool, then grind in a spice grinder or in a mortar & pestle to your desired coarseness. Sift out any yellow husks that don't break down. Sichuan pepper powder will retain its potent flavor and numbing punch for only a few weeks.

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About Taylor Holliday

The Mala Market all began when Taylor, a former journalist, created this blog as a place to document her adventures learning to cook Sichuan food for Fongchong, her recently adopted 11-year-old daughter. They discovered through the years that the secret to making food that tastes like it would in China is using the same ingredients that are used in China. The mother-daughter team eventually began visiting Sichuan’s factories and farms together and, in 2016, opened The Mala Market, America’s source for Sichuan heritage brands and Chinese pantry essentials.

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