And now, in time for your Labor Day entertaining, I present the third of three condiments, and by far the best. I discovered this recipe way back in early summer, nestled in the margin of “The Simple Issue” of Bon Appetit. Within a week the page was permanently folded back, stained and a little greasy, and since then my fridge has never NOT had a jar of chile crisp in residence.
The catch on this spicy, sassy, savory creation is that it takes some effort to make. You can cut yourself some slack by buying pre-peeled garlic cloves. Even with those, you’re still going to have to do a lot of thin slicing. Soooo, dig deep! It’s the last weekend of summer, people. Get yourself a sharp knife and a good playlist and get going. There’s still time to make yourself the MVP by bringing this to the party, or spicing up your own patio fare.
But first, a couple of things: I’ve now made this several times , and each time I’ve overdone it on the volume of shallots. Only once did they really crisp up—which was tremendous and worth cranking up the heat a bit and then babysitting the pot until they were evenly brown. That said, it was pretty tremendous all the other times too. Just make sure you brown the shallots and garlic without burning them. I now use a bigger pot than seems necessary, which allows the shallots to really relax in their hot oil bath.
It’s worth going to the original Bon Appetit recipe and reading the comments. I think “off the hook” is the best reader description. We’ve put it on burgers, quesadillas, sandwiches, pizza, baked sweet potatoes and eggs; into salads and on bruschetta and burratta and toast. It’s so going to get stirred into soups this fall. I may draw the line at using it as an ice cream topper, but…no promises.
Finally, there is apparently an excellent version of this at Trader Joe’s called chile onion crunch. Add that to the pain of not having a TJ’s near me. For now, I chop.
- 4 small shallots, thinly sliced (I end up with 1 1/2 cups or so, which is probably wayyyy too much, but I’m greedy and my shallots are apparently jumbo)
- 2 heads of garlic (HEADS, not cloves), separated into cloves, sliced. (Google says that’s about 24 cloves)
- 1½ cups vegetable oil
- 2 3″ cinnamon sticks
- 6 star anise pods
- 1 2″ piece ginger, peeled, very finely chopped
- ¼ cup crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. sugar
- Bring shallots, garlic, oil, cinnamon, and star anise to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, reducing heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer and swirling pot occasionally, until garlic and shallots are browned and crisp, 20–25 minutes.
(Take your time—you want to drive all the moisture out before they brown.)
- Mix ginger, red pepper, soy sauce, and sugar in a medium bowl. Strain shallot mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over ginger mixture. Let garlic and shallot cool in sieve (this will allow them to crisp further) before stirring back into chile oil. This is the time to take out the cinnamon and star anise too.
- Do Ahead: Crisp can be made 1 month ahead. Cover and chill.
Divide the goods into one big jar or smaller jars that you can fit a spoon into. Put the lids on tight and prepare to make a lot of friends. If you pour off a bunch of the oil you can then use it to make a sassy version of aquafaba mayo.