I usually purchase this chunky chili oil concoction from Chinese grocers. But seeing how key it was as part of the dipping sauce for the siomai I recently made, I thought I would also try and make the chili oil myself. Nothing could be simpler.
Take several handfuls of dried chilies and several cups of peanut oil (you can use olive oil, canola oil or other neutral oil). I purchased the dried chilies for a song the last time I was a the Arranque market several months ago, so honestly, they were a bit dated by the time I used them.
Blitz the chilies in a food processor or powerful blender until finely chopped. This take a while, and please cover the tube that releases air from your food processor, as the chili powder that wafts up is rather deadly. I inhaled some of it after I stepped away to take this photo and it was wickedly powerful. :)
Place the chopped chili in a stainless steel or heatproof bowl. Heat up the oil, just enough to cover the chilis. I heated way too much oil. I suggest you err on too little oil, and add some if necessary later.
Heat the oil up to just about its smoking point (say 440F), then turn off the heat and let it sit on the stove for say 5-7 minutes. I suppose another way to do this is to heat the oil up to say 410F if you have a fry thermometer. Other oils have lower smoking points. Pour the oil onto the chili flakes and watch it bubble and sizzle a bit. If you don’t let the oil cool a bit, you risk burning the chili and it will be bitter/black rather than flavorful deep, deep burgundy.
After a few more minutes, I added in a cup full of salted peanuts, as some Chinese cooks apparently do… I also added a touch of brown sugar to one small portion in an effort to add complexity to the brew, and perhaps to temper the spiciness. This turned out nicely, but the bottled stuff seems to be smoother, and possesses another layer of flavor. Perhaps after another day or two this will improve some more. I had it with the siomai, it was nice mixed with soy sauce and kalamansi, but I think I need a few more attempts to get it totally right. I have to warn you, this was wickedly spicy. :)