This easy habanero chilli oil has very few ingredients, but gives beautifully fruity flavour – excellent for sprinkling on pizza crusts & other dishes.
I have tried quite a few different recipes for chilli oil, but this habanero chilli oil is definitely my favourite so far. It also has the benefit of being one of the easiest, with the smallest number of ingredients.
I went for cold-pressed rapeseed oil as the base for this. The colour works well with the chilli and although fairly new on the gourmet culinary scene, it is widely becoming recognised as an extremely healthy oil that can be harvested locally by those trapped in the colder climes of northern Europe.
Cold-pressed rapeseed oil (this does not apply to industrial rapeseed oil which is processed at high temperatures and stripped of much of its nutritional value) contains a natural balance of omega 3 and 6 oils – around one third omega 3 and two thirds omega 6. Compare this to olive oil – fantastically healthy no doubt, but with very minimal omega 3. These essential fatty acids help with the reduction of cholesterol, help with the maintenance of a healthy heart and are key to brain development. While omega 6 is very common in current diets, omega 3 is much harder to come by.
But I digress – back to the habanero chilli oil. This flavouring oil uses fresh habanero chillies – some of the hottest chillies around – as the flavour and heat base. Habaneros are not just hot, they are also beautifully flavoured – fruity, grassy and fresh. But it can be difficult to get past the burning sensation if you have not developed a strong resistance.
This oil uses an age-old technique for extracting chilli flavour whilst minimising heat. The less cuts you make in the chillies, the less heat they will exude. In some dishes this means such very hot chillies are added whole, so maximum flavour can be extracted with less heat permeating the dish. In this dish, as we absolutely do want the chilli oil to be well spiced, the chillies are halved before steeping and are strained out at the end.
These gorgeous chillies give their colour, flavour and heat up to the oil, with no element overpowering any other. This sauce is hot enough that you need not drown your food in oil to get real flavour and heat, but no hot that it overwhelms whatever it touches. It really is absolutely lovely.
Habanero chilli oil
- 70 g fresh habanero chillies sliced in half
- 500 ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika
- salt to taste
Add all the ingredients except the salt to a medium pan. Heat gently - you do not want the oil to bubble or the chillies to burn - for about an hour. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Strain out the chillies and most of the paprika (some of it will probably pass through the sieve) and season to taste.
Transfer to a cool, sterilised jar (you can run it through a dishwasher or boil it for about 5 minutes). Store in the fridge.
There are very real safety issues with storing chilli oil (and other flavoured oils) out of the fridge. The deadly bacteria botulism can develop in anaerobic (oxygen-free) environments such as oils. So be warned!