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Jun 29, 2010 08:30 PM

Sam Woo Chili Oil?

I really like the hot chili oil that Sam Woo serves at their restaurants. It's the main reason I continue to eat there.

Does anyone know where I can buy a similar version of the hot chili oil they have at Sam Woo (what brand and type)? I've tried many different store-bought varieties of chili oil but nothing tastes anything like Sam Woo's.

Please help!

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  1. chili oil varies with region. i've never been to Sam Woo, but based on their website i assume they use a Cantonese-style oil - you need to make that distinction when you're looking for a product or a recipe because it's very different from Szechuan (Sichuan) style oil. look for one that contains dried shrimp and shallots.

    1. It's made in-house.

      Get yourself some dried chilies, dice them up, heat up some peanut (or canola) oil with sesame oil (ratio of 4:1 peanut to sesame) until it starts to smoke. Take it off the heat, let it sit for about 2 minutes, then pour the oil over the flakes.

      14 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        ipse, i thought Sam Woo served Hong Kong-style food. i'm surprised they use a Szechuan recipe for the chili oil...?

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Is there a Hong Kong-nese way of making chili oil? Actually, I jest. The only substantive difference between the two is the addition of garlic, dried shrimp and maybe shallots ... but when you're providing this stuff for free, it's much easier to use as few ingredients as possible.

          Plus, do you think a grubby, hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant like Sam Woo would be so provincial ...

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Thanks for the suggestions! I appreciate it since no one is willing to go with me to Sam Woo anymore. (No one in my family likes that restaurant except me).

            I need my fix of greasy fried rice and chili oil. I'll try looking for one that has shrimp/shallots... When I was searching before, I was picking primarily based on looks and I've found that just because it looks similar does not mean it tastes anything like it. One of the ones I tried tasted flowery, bleh.

            Anyway, I guess I can try to ask around at the restaurant too if they sell it or how they make it although making it will be my last resort.

        2. re: ipsedixit

          Any way to avoid coughing your lungs out when you make this? Blech, I mean it's worth it, but if it can be avoided that'd be nice.

          1. re: WhatThePho

            The one time I tried to make this oil I added the chile flakes when the oil was too hot, and produced these fumes. Opening the outside door was our immediate response.

            1. re: paulj

              Be sure not to hang your head over the pot. Help!

            2. re: WhatThePho

              I think the Huy Fong Chili Garlic sauce is a pretty close facsimile ... from the famed makers of Sriracha.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I think this stuff is crazy good. In my fridge at all times. Just the right amount of heat and the flavor's Awesome.

                And due to the rooster on the front we can call it all sorts of inappropriate names! :)

                1. re: WhatThePho

                  You mean like "cock sauce" or "the hot cock" or "this dish has been cocked!"

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    If you don't put quite enough in a dish, then it has gone off half cocked.

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      Careful now, you don't want to get too cocky with your sauce ...

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      The Hot Cock!! :) Love it! Yes cock sauce is all we call it. It doesn't have a name other than that.

              2. re: ipsedixit


                Why do you take the oil up to smoking, take the oil off the heat, wait two minutes, and then put in the chili flakes? That is, are you trying to change the flavor of the oil before adding the chili flakes? Why not add the flakes at a lower temperature and then take them slowly up to a frying level temperature?

                Or is reaching the smoking point before adding the chili flakes important to meld the flavors of the canola oil and the sesame oil? (I am not criticizing. I am just curious as to the reason behind the technique.) Thanks!

                1. re: gfr1111

                  Dunno the science, or reasoning behind. It's just the way my dad made back in the day ...

              3. :)

                I have never been to Sam Woo, but I just visited the website. It uses the same words as Chinese Triads. ha ha ha. You should just ask them what they put in its chili oil.

                1. I'm sure Sam Woo would sell you some.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: monku

                    Certainly better than people just snatching it from the tables and walking out with it.