Chili Oil Is The Go-To Pantry Ingredient To Give Meat Marinades A Kick

If you're a true spice enthusiast, sprinkling red pepper flakes or cayenne onto your food before eating isn't enough to attain the level of heat you're after. Something mouth-watering that makes you sweat a little is best reached when the spice is skin-deep. To give your meat a kick, marinate it in chili oil.

Made from dried chili flakes, a neutral-tasting oil, salt, aromatics, and spices like shallots, ginger, and Chinese five-spice powder, chili oil is a spicy, warm oil that instantly brings depth and heat to your food. With a bottle of it on hand, any plain cut of meat is instantly transformed into a fragrant and fiery dish.

You can drizzle chili oil over a finished product or cook meat in it. However, marinating it will allow the flavor to permeate throughout the meat, giving your food a pepper-tangy kick with each bite. If you want to tame the heat, mix the chili oil with a neutral one for some subtle spice.

The ultimate chili marinade

With the chili oil covering the spicy and savory components, create a marinade that's equally as sweet. A classic combination, a squeeze of honey with chili oil creates incredible depth. Top off the finished product with some lime juice for sweet and spicy shrimp or chicken that's both hot and tangy.

For an umami take on chili oil, add fish sauce to the marinade. The savory condiment gives chili oil a richer taste, making it the perfect marinade for any protein you add to pad Thai. Steep chicken, beef, tofu, or pork in the marinade before cooking and bring the chili oil back out to sprinkle over the noodles, giving your dish an extra dose of heat.

Of course, making your own chili oil the way you like it is the best shortcut for marinating your meat. While a neutral oil, onions, garlic, and ginger are simmering at medium heat, mix Sichuan chili flakes, salt, sugar, sesame seeds, and Chinese five spice powder in a bowl. Once the oil reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit, strain it and pour it into the chili mix. When it cools, transfer it to a jar and store it at room temperature.