Okay, I’ve never been heavily into infused cooking oils. In my humble opinion, there is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of a flavored oil, but if I use them for cooking, sauteing or frying, I prefer a much “cleaner” taste out of my oils, and instead let other added ingredients take the wheel when it comes to flavor. And if I use oils as a “straight” component – such as being drizzled on top of my dishes as a condiment or flavor enhancer or as an ingredient in a meal – it’s usually sparingly.
Because of that, it’s hard for me to get enthusiastic about a chile oil. So much, that in the past I’ve often turned down offers to review products like that because I don’t know if I’m really the best person to do the job (much like I really don’t dig bloody mary mixes).
It was after I looked at Red Hot Motor Oil’s Kickstarter campaign page when I changed my mind and told myself that I’d give this a shot. It looked slightly beyond your “oil with chile seeds and flakes” that is common to so many Asian dishes or a myriad of other cuisines – both in look and presentation (from a marketing perspective) it piqued my interest big time. So I had Cindy Arlantico, the maker (along with her husband Reggie) of Red Hot Motor Oil, shipped a sample jar to me to test out.
Ingredients: Oil, chile peppers, salt and spices
3 out of 5. Red Hot Motor Oil is dominated by an earthy, nutty aroma with supporting of a faint oil scent.
Appearance and Texture:
3 out of 5. This chile oil is a rich red colored-liquid with a typical olive oil viscosity. As expected, there is a sizable amount of pepper flakes and ground-up spices that inevitably sink to the bottom of the jar. This is where the typical “ingredients float to the bottom” deficiency gets turned upside into a possible positive. Cindy and Reggie have dubbed this bottom jarred material as “sludge” and encourage their customers to take a spoon and stir up this thick chile and spice mix in varying amounts to flavor, accent and heat up the oil in different ways.
For instance, if you do little or no mixing or stirring of this chile and spice sludge, you will get more of the pure oil with lesser pepper-infused heat and less of the herbal flavor. A moderate amount of mixing will give you a happy medium. Or, if you prefer, dig up a spoonful of mostly sludge, and you will get the brunt of spice, salt and fire. More on the actual flavor below.
Taste Straight Up:
3.5 out of 5. The tones that came from Red Hot Motor Oil were both surprising and delightful. I tasted this in all three “states” talked about above – the straight oil, a “50/50” mixture, and the “sludge”. The oil taste came through as clean with a slight hint of chiles and spices, and pleased my palette big time in that regard. With the additional concentration of spices, the herbal flavor burst through with incredibly complexity with high doses of nuttiness. Likable hints of toast and burnt bread crumbs could also be found in the nose and on the tongue. The chile peppers? Oh yeah, there was a considerable effort put in from them, stacking levels of flavor and fire. Once I downed a teaspoon pull of sludge, it was a full throttle explosion of burn and spice!
Taste on Food:
4 out of 5. It got even better on food. I drizzled a moderate amount of the “50/50” fusion of Red Hot Motor Oil on a ham & turkey sandwich with salad greens and bits of shredded cheddar. The type of earthy, nutty and toasty flavors this stuff added was unlike most things I’ve tried in a long, long time! It’s not your typical chile oil, hot sauce or spicy mustard; it’s a hot spice sensation you would have to taste for yourself.
I was a fan of this so much that the next meal I prepared was similar to the aforementioned sandwich, in that it was a salad with cheese and sliced up ham. Yum! Red Hot Motor Oil excels as a fiery and savory salad dressing, even with a mere tablespoon dripped all over the top of my meal – that’s all it needs for full flavor and heat.
You get a big, pungent bite of the sludge, and the burn rates an easy 3 to 3.5 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being all-out supernova. If you have a more general bite of a balanced amount of oil and chile/spice sludge, the heat is a milder 2 or perhaps 2.5.
Red Hot Motor Oil is a great, flavorful chile oil that I recommend all chileheads try at least once. You can find out more info about this product at their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RedHotMotorOil.