Over the years I have developed a taste for spicy food. Specifically, hot sauce. But not just hot, it’s gotta have flavor. And I don’t like any of that ketchupy sriacrha nonsense. At first when I got something called “hot oil” at the Chinese food restaurant I was a little afraid. No vinegar? No sugar? Big chunks of dried peppers? I started by gingerly using only the oil portion and tossing the solids.
But, somehow over the years I have developed a taste for globs of this stuff. Put in on my vegetables, put it on my meat, put it in my soup and noodles and salad. I would buy a jar of the plainest chili oil I could find and, a couple weeks later, it’s all gone. Spooning an enormous glob of this feared condiment as onlookers gasp and cover their children’s eyes makes me feel like a circus freak and a superhero all rolled up into one. An expensive habit. And why do they always make it so salty and oily? It became a gamble – each brand was different. One had tomato in it – not my thing. Too much variation in the market and too much risk. Time to make my own.