4 tablespoons crushed chili flakes (*footnote 1)
2 teaspoons five spice powder
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn
(optional) 2 whole star anise
2 bay leaves
1 cup vegetable oil (or grapeseed oil)
(optional) 1 piece thinly sliced ginger
Combine chili flakes, five spice powder, sesame seeds, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, and bay leaves in a heatproof ceramic bowl that can hold at least 2 cups liquid. Place the bowl on a heat resistant coaster.
Heat oil in a wok (or a skillet) over medium-high heat. Add ginger. When the ginger starts to wither and turns golden brown, immediately turn off the heat. The oil should reach 370 degrees F (190 C) and no higher than 400 F (200 C) if read with an instant thermometer.
Carefully pour oil or use a ladle to transfer oil into the bowl of mixed spices. The oil will bubble for a few seconds and cook the spices. While the the oil is bubbling, use a metal spoon to stir gently to mix the spices, so they’ll cook thoroughly.
When the oil cools down a bit, scoop out and discard the star anise and bay leaf.
The oil is now ready to use! Its flavor will mature if you let it rest for a day, allowing the spices to infuse into the oil.
The oil can be stored covered at room temperature for two weeks, or up to six months in the fridge in an airtight container.
(1) To create chili oil with a beautiful red color without being too spicy, use Sichuan chili flakes. The chili flakes are made with premium peppers that have a vibrant color with fewer chili seeds. Alternatively, if you cannot find the type, use Korean chili flakes. It is possible to use chili powder as well, but this tends to make the chili oil very spicy with a yellowish color.