Homemade chili crisp is one of the most delicious condiments that you can make at home. This recipe not only adds a vibrant red color to your food, but it also packs a flavorful punch thanks to a variety of chili peppers. Fried shallot rings and garlic chips lend a crispy and crunchy texture.
While it is red and peppery, this chili crisp isn’t too hot, providing a delicious kick without being overly intense. You can also adjust the recipe to your liking depending on your spice tolerance.
Chili crisp just adds a touch of saltiness, umami, and spice while making food look so fun and exciting.
Chili Crisp vs. Chili Oil vs. Chili Crunch
Although chili crisp, chili oil, and chili crunch share similarities, there are noteworthy differences between them. All three products use a neutral oil base combined with various peppers, garlic, and spices.
- Chili oil primarily consists of oil with some pepper and spice sediments and may be made with additional toppings such as soybean, black bean, or peanuts for added flavor. It adds flavor and heat to a dish without adding extra texture.
- Chili crisp, on the other hand, can feature ingredients like fried shallots and garlic alongside a generous amount of chili flakes. The toppings provide the iconic crispy texture, with chili oil filling in the gaps. Compared to chili oil, chili crisp contains significantly more toppings by volume.
- Chili crunch takes chili crisp a step further by adding crunchy texture with the addition of fried whole peanuts, chopped peanuts, soybeans, and/or sesame seeds.
Adjusting the Spice Level In Chili Crisp
Although this recipe features a blend of various peppers including Sichuan peppercorn, cayenne red pepper flakes, Japones dried chili pepper, and gochugaru (Korean chili pepper powder), the majority of the spiciness comes from gochugaru.
For a more intense and robust flavor, you can add more gochugaru to your liking. For those who prefer a milder heat level, you can reduce or substitute gochugaru with paprika or more red pepper flakes.
While Sichuan peppercorn is known for its numbing and spicy flavor, it is used in this recipe in moderation to provide floral notes and depth of flavor. It’s entirely optional, so you can omit it if desired.
Tips for Frying Shallots and Garlic
This is one of the safer and more effective methods for frying and crisping up shallot rings. Using gentle heat allows the shallots to diffuse more of their flavor into the oil over a longer period of time. It also helps prevent intense oil splatters since the oil doesn’t become too hot to violently react with the moisture in the shallot.
The same philosophy applies to garlic as well. The gentle heat also ensures that the garlic chips are light and crispy without burning, which would impart a bitter flavor.
All of the ingredients for this chili crisp recipe can be found at your local Asian grocery store (with some items available in most supermarkets) as well as online.
Mushroom bouillon powder can be substituted with other bouillon powders or simply with mushroom powder and/or monosodium glutamate (MSG). These substitutions contribute to the umami flavor that makes this chili crisp so deliciously exciting. However, if you prefer to avoid MSG altogether, you can add salt to taste as a substitute.
I like peanut oil since it has a high smoke point with a complimentary nutty flavor, but you can use a different neutral oil. Laoganma, a popular Chinese chili brand, uses soybean oil in their products to appeal to the general public, especially to those with nut allergies. Vegetable oil and canola also work as well.
How to Serve Chili Crisp
I add my chili crisp to everything, from avocado toast and eggs to pizza and hummus. Spoon it on top of bowls of noodles, rice, stir-fries, soups, and salads. There is even a trend where people add chili crisp to their soft serve—try it on vanilla ice cream for a unique experience.
Condiments to Stock Your Fridge
- Homemade Zhoug
- Banana Ketchup
- Easy Aioli
- Onion Jam
- Carrot Top Pesto
Combine the spices:
In a medium heatproof bowl, add the gochugaru, red pepper flakes, Japones chili flakes, ground Sichuan peppercorns, sugar, mushroom bouillon powder, and salt. Mix until combined. Add the ginger and set aside.
Fry the shallots:
Place a strainer over a bowl or cooling rack over a baking sheet and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, add the peanut oil and shallots. Place over medium heat and cook gently for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to separate the shallots into individual rings. In the beginning, the shallots will look purply pink and vibrant. About halfway through, the shallots will start to look pale, almost translucent, with a light yellow color. After 15 minutes, the shallots start to take on a very light brown color.
Fry the garlic:
Add the garlic to the shallots and stir. Fry until the shallots are light golden brown and the garlic slices start to take on some color around the edges, about 10 minutes. The shallots and garlic might still look “soft” at this point but they are completely ready—if you fry them until they look nicely browned in the oil, they will likely burn. They will crisp up and take on more color once you lift them from the oil.
Drain and cool:
Remove the garlic and shallots with a slotted spoon or a skimmer. Let drain and cool in a strainer or on a cooling rack.
Heat the oil:
Place the oil back in the saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat to 375°F. Pour the hot oil over the spices and stir. The mixture will sizzle.
Let the spice oil cool before mixing:
Let the spice oil cool for 30 minutes or until it reaches room temperature. Remove the ginger slices. Stir in the fried shallot rings and garlic chips.
Store and enjoy:
Transfer the homemade chili crisp to a mason jar and store in a cool area for up to a month or in the fridge for longer.
I like to give my chili oil a stir before each use to get all the delicious crisps that have settled at the bottom. If you run low on chili oil, add a few tablespoons of oil to stretch the chili crisp.
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