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Light and Spicy - Cod Poached in Chinese Hot Chili Oil

The hot weather has not done a Great deal of good for my tomatoes. But my peppers are going crazy. So I picked all the hot varieties, dehydrated them and made a hot Chinese chili oil to poach my cod in. There are so many things you can do with hot chili oil, and even though this was very spicy, you only need a little bit for anything you choose to add it to.

When you poach fish in it, you do actually waste a good bit of the oil (you can’t reuse that once you’ve had fish in it), but it’s worth it.

To make the oil:


2 cups dried whole red chilies, crushed, stems removed

6 cloves garlic finely minced

3 cups vegetable or neutral oil

2 tablespoons pink peppercorns

3 tsp salt

5 star anise

2 bay leaves

5 cloves garlic

2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled and sliced in 1/4” slices


Crush dried peppers by hand or use a food processor and grind on HIGH speed until they become small flakes.

Important safety tip: be careful not to inhale the pepper dust - sneezing will become, well, fiery and unpleasant.

In a pot set over low-medium heat, add oil and use a candy thermometer to bring the oil to 250 degrees.

When the oil is hot, add in aromatics: ginger, onion, star anise, bay leaves, and cloves.

Allow this to simmer for one hour for best fragrance. Stir occasionally.

After it’s simmered, remove the aromatics from the oil and discard them.

Carefully pour the hot oil into your chili flakes (In a large Mason jar or facsimile) and let it bubble. As it bubbles, stir the flakes with the oil to prevent the flakes from overcooking or burning.

Let it cook, stirring occasionally to infuse the oil. When cool to the touch, refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to six months.

For The fish:

Use as small a saucepan as you have, so as not to waste too much of the oil.

Heat the oil on low for about 10 minutes. Add small cod filet (4-6 ounces), making sure it’s completely submerged. Cook for about 20 minutes on that low temperature.

I made a quick stirfry of:

1.5 cups sliced cabbage

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1/4 cup cashews

1/2 cup shelled edamame

2 teaspoons soy sauce

Saute the cabbage in the oil on medium-high heat. When it’s soft and starting to brown, add the cashews and edamame.

Saute until the nuts and edamame are heated through. Add the soy and cook for another 2 minutes or so.

Spoon the veggies into a bowl, top with the cod and drizzle with a little of the oil.

Not the prettiest dish, but light and very flavorful. The heat of the oil doesn’t saturate the fish, it just flavors it perfectly.

Grab your chopsticks and enjoy.

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