Suggested pairings for this local chili oil: literally everything in your fridge
It’s a hexagonal jar, pretty and small—just four ounces. The blue label is printed with delicate cherry blossoms. The batch number is marked in tidy script: 12. And inside, a stormy scarlet liquid, glossy, shiny, layered with secrets. This is the chili oil by J. Chang Kitchen. James Chang sells the cult favorite condiment about every other month via online releases with an option to pick up locally at Waldo Thai, where Chang has been the general manager for the last three years. Chang’s batches run up to three hundred and fifty bottles, and the recipe evolves each time. There’s a certain brand of red Szechuan chiles he prefers. He makes his own spice blends, hand-grinding each red and green Szechuan peppercorn—the two major varieties, the latter hard to find locally—with star anise and cassia root. He’s found that he needs a blend of high-quality canola oil and high-heat-proof vegetable oil: His oil cooks for eight hours, until the chiles are almost caramelized. And then he lets it rest for two to four weeks. There are endless uses for this condiment. Spread it on pizza, glaze salmon with it, drizzle it over eggs. This chili oil breathes fresh life into anything it touches.