Bitterness and pungency are positive attributes that are present in both high-quality extra virgin olive oils and traditional Sichuan recipes. EVOO pairs extremely well with most of the core ingredients found in Sichuan cooking; mouth-tingling peppercorns, piquant dried chilis, tangy black vinegar, fermented condiments, heady rice wines, and rich-toasted sesame oils and seeds.
This recipe contains two classic components that come together for one marvelous meal or appetizer. The scallion pancakes (a famous and traditional Chinese street food) are a crispy, flaky, and savory creation, easily recreated at home. The second component is a fragrant, chilli-infused olive oil, perfect for a spicy dip or drizzle over the pancakes. The oil is made by slowly heating and steeping aromatic ingredients (star anise, cinnamon, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, and shallots) with a moderately intense extra virgin olive oil. The peppery pungency of most moderate EVOOs highlights these paired ingredients and enhances the crushed red pepper flakes (which are added after the steeping process).