Sunday, 25 September 2011
Adventures with Prickly Oil 花椒油
What is prickly oil? It's a mix of rapeseed oil (88%) and Sichuan pepper (12%). There aren't any actual Sichuan peppercorns in the oil, and I guess a chemical process beyond my understanding has somehow extracted the numbing heat of Sichuan pepper into oil form. It is potent stuff and I love it. So, what's the best way to use prickly oil? Well, there's a reason why I'm called Mr Noodles, which is why I used it in a knockout dressing for noodles!
Sichuan Chilli Soy Dressing
Chiu Chow chilli oil (other kinds of chilli oils/sauces can also be used)
1) Mix soy sauce, sesame oil and the Chiu Chow chilli oil in a bowl.
2) Finely chop the spring onion and add to the bowl. Give it a stir.
3) Add prickly oil (little by little). Give it another stir.
I hate measurements when it comes to stuff like this. This is food we're talking about, not a chemistry practical. Just mix the ingredients to your own taste, but do take care when adding the prickly oil – a few drops go a long way.
In the above photo, I tossed some Shanghai noodles (上海麵) and fishballs in the dressing before garnishing with some pak choi. As well as noodles, I reckon this versatile dressing would go brilliantly with dumplings.
Where can I buy prickly oil?
I bought this bottle of prickly oil at Wing Yip in Croydon but do let me know if you see it stocked elsewhere. And as Dean (see comments) points out, you can also get this oil at the Chinatown branch of SeeWoo, where it's called Sichuan Hanyuan Pepper Oil.