Homemade chillie oil and homemade Garlic oil have been associated with the growth of Clostridium botulinum. and in both situations the victims died. This is the organism responsible for Botulism. The "spores" are wide spread in nature being found in many soils. The spore is extremely resistant to heat destruction and the process unsuitable for sterilising the ingredients in chillie oil, requiring a temperature of 160C (320 F) for two hours or steam sterilisation at 120C, 15 PSI for 20 minutes . The chillie itself is a problem. as is the galangal and ginger and shallots.

The spores will grow in low oxygen conditions such as in oil, they can get by with a little moisture such as in this recipe and the spores can still germinate in the refrigerator ( at a considerably slower rate). They will also germinate at pH close to neutral which these recipes are.

Commercial products of these ingredients are fine. They use inhibitory chemicals to prevent the germination of the spores within guidelines of the various authorities. These chemicals aren't suitable for use in domestic situations. Our best safeguard is to know the risks and to work within safe limits



Once the spores germinate the bacteria mature and produce the deadly toxin. This toxin is one of the most deadliest known . Fortunately it is sensitive to heat itself and a relatively short heating period of 10 minutes at 85C will destroy the toxin. (This however doesn't destroy the "unhatched" spores, so these can grow and produce fresh toxin if enough time  is allowed.)

Reducing the possible load of spores contaminating the chillies,shallots, the ginger and galangal.. Wash the ginger, shallots and galangal very well under running water.
Don't store the chillie oil for longer than 10 days even in the refrigerator
If the oil has been stored for more than 10 days and you still wish to use it then heat the oil immediately prior to using holding for 10 minutes at 85 C.

Ingredients:

  • 35g Dried Cayenne Chilli
  • 200ml Sunflower Oil
  • Dash of Sesame Oil
  • 50g Jámon de Bellota, diced (or another good quality aged dry cured ham such as Prosciutto)
  • 20g Ginger, diced
  • 30g Galangal, diced
  • 15g Garlic Powder
  • 5g Table Salt
  • 30g Chopped Shallots
  • 25ml Thai Mushroom Soy Sauce
  • 33g Sugar

Method:

  1. Blitz the Chillies, being careful not to “over do it”. You want some small flakes remaining and not a complete powder.
  2. Place the flakes in to a heat proof jar.
  3. In a blender blitz the Ginger and Galanagal then add the Jámon (do it in that order) and continue to blitz until well mixed.
  4. In a pan over a moderate flame add a little oil and cook the Jámon mixture, breaking it up with a spoon. Add the Shallots and mix well. Turn down the heat and keep stirring the ingredients around the pan. Slow cooking is the technique required here, too fast and you risk burning the Jámon, you want the flavours of the Ginger and Glanagal to fuse with the ham.
  5. When the Shallots have softened add the Garlic Powder, Salt and Soy Sauce. Continue to slow cook, stirring all the time until the mixture darkens. Add the Sugar and continue to slow cook.
  6. The sugar will melt and bind all the ingredients together, in to almost a jam consistency. When the mixture is nice and “sticky”, taste and correct seasoning with more salt if preferred. Remove from the pan and allow to slightly cool.
  7. This mixture has a whole host wonderful aromas. The acorn flavour of the Jámon, the slight spiciness and sweetness of the Ginger and Galangal, the pleasant and not overpowering pungency of the Shallots and Garlic, the saltiness of the Soy Sauce and Salt all wrapped up with the melted Sugar.
  8. Whilst the mixture is cooling, add the dash of Sesame Oil to the Sunflower Oil.
  9. The Sesame Oil will give the sauce a nice “nutty” aroma. Heat the oils in a pan.
  10. Heat the oils to 130ºC.
  11. There is no “guessing” when it comes to correct temperatures, so its good to invest in a cooking thermometer, they are really helpful and will only set you back a few Euros
  12. When you have reached the correct temperature, turn off the heat and pour the oils in to a heat proof jug. The reason for pouring it to the jug is that the pan will continue to heat the oil, taking the temperature past the desired 130ºC.
  13. If you have inadvertently gone over 130º, just allow the oil to rest for a minute until it goes down to 130º.
  14. Slowly pour the oil in to the heat proof jar that is holding the Chilli Flakes. Do this slowly.
  15. The chillies may crackle a little with the heat, this is normal. Continue to SLOWLY add the oils.
  16. Once all the oils have been poured in to the jar, allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
  17. The flakes will cook and infuse in the hot oils then slowly drop to the bottom of the jar, the oils will now take on a toasted amber colour, turning in to a toasted red.
  18. Once most of the flakes have sunk to the bottom, add the sticky Jámon mixture then give the ingredients a gentle stir.
  19. Allow to cool before closing the lid.

The sauce can be eaten at once but the flavour will improve after two days, once the ingredients have had a chance to get to know each other.

Store  in the fridge for a safe period of two weeks. If stored in a fridge you may get some “haze” in the oil, but this will disappear once the sauce has come to room temperature.