The cool breezes of autumn have set in here in Stavanger, which means a few things are definitely certain to happen in the coming weeks. Point 1 – the last round of final papers for my MBA program. Point 2 – shorter days and darker nights. And finally point 3 – soups and stews galore in my kitchen.
When I moved to Norway some years ago, my doctor game me one very solid piece of advice. He told me, “In winter, you need to eat as spicy of food as you can handle, as often as you can.” It was back then that I decided to eat spicy soups and stews during the colder months in Norway. Spicy soups and stews give me a way to enjoy a warm meal on a dark night, but also enjoy all of the health benefits of spicy foods. While this was and still is how I tend to eat in winter, sometimes I’m just too lazy busy to prepare an entire pot of tom yum soup or spicy peanut chicken stew. Also, what is a girl to do when she wants a hint of heat in a dish – not a whole fire’s worth?
My favorite way to add heat, or a dash of spiciness, to just about any dish is chili oil. Chili oil is simple to make and a”cheap as chips” kitchen mainstay in my household. I use chili oil in soups & stews, but also plainly on rice with sardines, as a paste in salad dressings, in marinades and just about anywhere I would normally use other oils for an added twist.
Making a batch of chili oil is as simple as mixing a neutral oil and red pepper flakes – them allowing them to sit in a dark place so that the oil can infuse with the spiciness from the red pepper flakes. One of the best things about chili oil? Both ingredients can be bought in any grocery store in Norway.
To save a bit of money on making your own chili oil, be sure to head to your local ethnic store for larger quantities of red pepper flakes or whole dried chilies at reduced prices.
1 clean glass jar with a lid
red pepper flakes (or whole dried chilies)
a neutral oil (rapseed, sunflower or canola oils are good choices but others will also work)
1 Add the red pepper flakes to the glass jar.
2 Pour enough oil over the top of the red pepper flakes so that they are completely covered. Stir the oil and the flakes together, just until all of the flakes are covered.
3 Pour additional oil over the top of the flakes. I usually pour enough oil into the jar so that the jar is filled almost to the top.
4 Screw the lid tightly on to the jar and place in a dry but cool and dark spot for about a week.
5 After about a week, the oil will look orange or slightly red and is now ready to use. Although the oil should be “warm” with heat after a week, the spiciness of the oil will increase over time. Once you’ve used up all of the chili oil in the jar, simply add more oil to the jar and allow it to infuse for a week before using. This can be done up to 3 times using the same red pepper flakes.
|The “fire” or heat in chilies comes from the seeds. The more seeds, the more heat.|