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【Learn Chinese】Chinese Sauces: Infused Oil
Just like in the west where you can get various infused oils, like garlic infused olive oil, in China you also get infused oils. Here are three of the most common ones you’ll find.
Chilli oil 辣椒油 làjiāo yóu
We already talked about various chilli oils/sauces so what the difference between those and this?
The main difference is that there are no chilli flakes or pieces of chilli in this one. Instead this is pure chilli infused oil, which makes it a great choice for dressings on cold dishes, noodles etc.
This chilli oil is easy to spot in the supermarket with its deep red colour. It is also referred to as “red chilli oil” (红辣椒油 hóng làjiāo yóu) for this reason.
Sichuan peppercorn oil 花椒油 huājiāo yóu
Next on our list we have Sichuan peppercorn oil. As you might guess from the name it is an oil infused with Sichuan peppercorns. This gives the oil a distinctive 麻辣 málà “numbing and spicy” flavour that Sichuan is famous for.
If you’ve ever accidentally bitten into a Sichuan peppercorn then you’ll definitely understand what flavour we mean!
There are two varieties of this oil: red and green, with the colours referring to whether the oil was made with red Sichuan peppercorns (红花椒 hóng huājiāo) or green Sichuan peppercorns (青花椒 qīng huājiāo).
The green kind has a stronger flavour and aroma and will bring more of that numbing sensation to a dish.
The main use of this oil is to add a 麻辣 málà taste to a Sichuan dish. It can be used instead of actual Sichuan peppercorns which is great if you hate the sensation of accidentally biting into one! It’s also good if you don’t want the inconvenience of picking them out of a dish either.
Sesame oil 芝麻油 zhīmayóu
Sesame oil is another of the essential Chinese sauces and it is also one of our favourites on the list!
There are two kinds of sesame oil: toasted sesame oil and non toasted sesame oil.
Generally, the one that is used in Chinese cooking is toasted sesame oil. Sometimes the name of it will include “香” xiāng meaning “fragrant” in the name to distinguish it. Toasted sesame oil has a strong, nutty flavour and aroma.
Rather than it being used as a cooking oil it is instead used to season dishes. It is normally added in the last stages of cooking, as a marinade, in a dipping sauce or part of a dressing.