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Three-Peppercorn Asian Chile Oil

Complex and floral with a slow, steady show of heat.

¾ cup


About 20 minutes to prepare and about 45 minutes to cool the oil


When we created this oil to sling a little zing onto our already stupendously delicious Sesame Noodles, we didn’t really think the noodles required enhancement, but we made the oil anyway. And we opted to publish it as an independent recipe simply so as to not burden the noodle recipe with additional ingredients or steps. Both decisions turned out to be very, very good indeed: the oil vaults the noodle flavors out of the park. In fact, this oil vaults a lot of things out of the park—a bowl of rice, a plate of scrambled eggs, an avocado half. The more we spoon it, the more we love it.

Cooking Remarks

We’ve said this dozens of times and we’ll continue to say it: get yourself some good spices—in this case ripping-fresh dried chiles—or don’t bother at all. We ordered ours from the Spice House.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a heavy-bottomed medium skillet, an offset spatula, a couple of small bowls, a food processor, a heavy-bottomed small saucepan, a fine-mesh strainer, and a jar with lid for storage.

    • 17 to 20
      arból chiles (0.5 ounce; throw in a few more chiles if they have large stems)
    • teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
    • ½
      teaspoon black peppercorns
    • ½
      teaspoon white peppercorns
    • ¾
      cup neutral-flavored oil, such as grapeseed or almond
    • 2
      garlic cloves, halved, peeled, and lightly crushed

    In a heavy-bottomed medium skillet, toast the chiles over medium heat until fragrant and slightly darkened in spots, 8 to 10 minutes (fig. 1.1); occasionally toss the chiles and press them down with an offset spatula so that they make contact with the surface of the pan. Transfer the chiles to a small bowl and let cool. Meanwhile, add the Sichuan peppercorns, black peppercorns, and white peppercorns to the now-empty skillet and toast until fragrant, about 1 minute, shaking the pan from time to time. Transfer the peppercorns to a separate small bowl and let cool.


    Tear off and discard the stems on the chiles and drop the chiles into a food processor. Pulse several times to break apart the pods, and then process until coarsely ground, 15 to 20 seconds (fig. 2.1). Add the peppercorns and pulse two or three times. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. 


    Pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed small saucepan, drop in the garlic, and set the pan over medium-low heat. Allow the oil to heat slowly, swirling occasionally, and cook until the garlic is just beginning to color, 8 to 10 minutes (fig. 3.1). Remove the pan from the heat and immediately dump in the chile mixture; swirl to combine and slightly cool the oil (fig. 3.2). Cover the pan and let cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes.


    Set a fine-mesh strainer over a clean jar and pour the contents of the saucepan into the strainer. Stir the solids in the strainer to encourage as much oil to drip through as possible (fig. 4.1), cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

    1. 1.1
    1. 2.1
    1. 3.1
    2. 3.2
    1. 4.1