Making Spice Oil
This recipe comes from Leanne Brown’s book Good and Cheap. This cookbook is an excellent resource for anyone trying to feed themselves on a budget.
I like that she includes recipes for “flavor.” A little something added to a dish of plain food can add a little love to a plain, boring dish and we can all benefit from a little extra love.
Here is the recipe:
1 clove garlic – crushed with the side of a knife
1 cup olive or vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil, because I was out of everything else)
2 tbsp chili flakes or dried red chilies (Used a red chili from my overactive chili plant)
1 tsp Sichuan or regular peppercorns
1 star anise
½ tsp cumin seeds (I used ground because that is what I had on hand)
¼ tsp salt
Add all of the ingredients to a small pot.
Warm the mixture over low heat for about 10 minutes, until it starts to bubble gently and you can hear a bit of a sizzle and then turn off the heat. You want to heat it just enough to let the spices infuse into the oil, without getting so hot that the spices start to cook or fry.
Once cooked, Leanne says to remove the pot from the stovetop and put it in the fridge with a lid to allow the spices infuse for4 to 8 hours. I don’t like to put hot or warm stuff in my fridge because I think it makes the fridge work harder thus using more electricity to maintain its cool temperature. I decanted the warm oil into a glass jar, waited until it cooled on the kitchen counter and then I let the oil infuse overnight in the fridge.
Alternatively, I would use thoroughly DRIED ingredients and let this oil infuse on a windowsill, like I did to make infused comfrey oil. Using dried ingredients (especially garlic) is important to reduce the risk of botulism. If this oil turns out to be a hit and something we use, I might try making a batch using my slow cooker.
Whatever method you use, taste the oil once the infusing process is over to determine if it is spicy enough for you. If not, keep infusing. If it is, strain the oil, bottle it, and store it in the fridge. Leanne Brown recommends keeping it for only a week. I don’t think I could use that much in a week and I might be tempted to keep it longer but I certainly would throw it out after a month or if it looked or smelled off. A bout of food poisoning is never frugal!
We will be trying this oil on different dishes. Come back and see what we used it for.