I have been late to discover Chili Crisp, the deliciously spicy, oil-based condiment commonly used in Chinese cuisine. It was all sparked by an article by Tejal Rao in The New York Times, titled The Most Valuable Condiment of 2020: Salsa Macha.

I was immediately intrigued and made the Salsa Macha with whatever dried chilies I had in the cupboard (I had no Mexican ones on hand) and it was spooned on many meals afterwards. Reading through the comments to the recipe I came across comparisons to Chili Crisp, both condiments an oil infusion of various chilies, garlic, shallots and peanuts. The Salsa Macha did not last long so I moved on to the Chili Crisp and since then there’s always been a jar in the fridge.

The most well known commercial variety of chili crisp is the Lao Gan Ma brand, created by Tao Huabi in 1997 in the Guizhou province. From a small noodle stand serving noodles with her homemade spicy sauce she has built an empire with her spicy sauces. But as good as the bottled stuff may be, I think homemade is always better. The crisp is not difficult to make but you need to keep an eye on the oil when frying the shallots and garlic. If the vegetables fry too long and get too dark the oil will have a burnt flavour.

The chili crisp is fantastic on almost anything, dumplings, fried eggs, grilled vegetables, chicken mayo sandwiches, you name it. The recipe I provide is by no means “authentic” but after making a few batches I have found this version to be my preferred recipe. It is loosely based on a recipe from Marion’s Kitchen.

I hope you enjoy making this recipe for Chili Crisp. If you’ve made it, share it with me by tagging @heinstirred on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #heinstirred. It is always a treat to see the recipes made and enjoy. The images in this post has been shot on the EARL GRAY and TIRAMISU backgrounds available at shop.heinstirred.com.


  • 35 g dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp szechuan pepper crushed
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods crushed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp stock powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup grape seed oil
  • 3 shallots finely sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • ¼ cup peanuts roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds


  • Tear open the chilies and remove as many seeds as you can. A few left behind won't matter.
  • Discard the seeds and place the chili skins in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped
  • Place the chilies, szechuan pepper, star anise, cardamom, salt, stock and sugar in a heat proof bowl
  • Place the oil and shallots in a saucepan
  • Bring to a simmer and fry the shallots until it starts to turn a light golden colour
  • Add the garlic and fry for another few minutes until the garlic turns a golden colour
  • Add the peanuts and sesame seeds and fry for another minute or two
  • Be careful that the shallots or garlic does not get too brown as the oil will end up tasting burnt
  • Place a sieve on top of the bowl with the chilies
  • Pour the oil through the sieve so the oil ends in the bowl and the shallots, garlic and peanuts remain in the sieve
  • Give the oil in the bowl a stir and let the shallots, garlic and peanuts cool down in the sieve
  • Once cool and crisp, add the shallots, garlic etc to oil
  • Spoon the chilli oil mixture into jars
  • The flavour and colour will develop the longer it stands
  • Keep in the fridge for up to 2 months

If you are looking for more quick, easy delicious meal ideas, my cookbook, DRUNK AND HUNGRY is available as a digital download. As the title states, the book consists of easy and flavourful recipes for when you find yourself drunk, and hungry. Savoury, sweet, vegan, vegetarian, bacon, cheese, spice, and carbs are packed into 15 easy recipes to satisfy your hunger while tantalising your tastebuds. The book has just been announced as the South African winner in the Digital Books category in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. It will now compete for Best in the World later this year at the Cookbook Fair in Paris.

Purchase the book by clicking on this link

Drunk and Hungry

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