hetty’s chili oat crisp

Reprinted with permission from Hetty McKinnon’s To Asia, With Love:  Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories From the Heart (Prestel, April 6, 2021).



3 shallots, finely diced (about 1 cup diced)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons, or up to 2 tablespoons if you like garlic)

1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 cinnamon stick

100 g (1 cup) old-fashioned rolled oats 30 g (½ cup) coconut flakes, roughly chopped (sweetened or unsweetened)

3 tablespoons white sesame seeds

3 tablespoons red chili pepper flakes

375 ml (1 ½ cups) vegetable or other neutral oil, plus up to 125 ml (½ cup) more if desired

2 tablespoons sesame oil

about 1 tablespoon sea salt


  1. Instead of dicing by hand, you can place the shallots, garlic cloves, and ginger into a food processor and pulse until finely diced.
  2. To make the crisp, place the shallot, garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, oats, coconut, sesame seeds, chili pepper flakes and oils in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a gentle simmer, and then reduce the heat to medium–low and cook for 20–25 minutes, until everything is crispy.  (For me, this took a bit longer, closer to an hour, which could have been due to the pot I was using.  I looked for when everything turned a rich golden-brown, especially the shallots, and drained the oil at that point.)
  3. Strain the oil through a sieve over a bowl, and leave the oat mixture to cool in the sieve – this will allow it to crisp up further and prevent anything from burning in the hot oil.  Set the oil aside. 
  4. Be warned that it will take all your willpower not to snack on the oat mixture at this point, which will taste like an incredibly addictive delicious spicy savory granola.  
  5. Once the crispy oat mixture is completely cool, stir it back into the oil and season with sea salt.  Leave the cinnamon stick in the oil, as it will continue to flavor it.  Store the chili crisp in a clean sterilized jar, at room temperature or in the fridge.  It will keep well for several months.


I like to divvy this into three or so small jars (think Bonne Maman-size) and keep the one I’m using in the fridge and the other two in the freezer.  

If you’re looking for ideas for what to do with the chili crisp, the short answer is that it can probably go on everything. But to start: On potstickers always, stirred into congee, practically made for biang biang noodles; even just on a fried egg and some rice with some sauteed greens. My favorite thing to do is toss it in a bowl with a big pile of lettuce, rice, and tofu or chicken, shred some cilantro over top and mix it up with a little bit of Kewpie–I could eat that for days. Now that I’m feeling better and able to eat some spicy food, I do eat it pretty much every day. It’s just that great.

Per notes from commenters and my own experience, you may not have a ton of oil in the pot while cooking, especially if your shallots are large.  For me, plenty of flavor comes through from the crisp itself and I prefer a little less oil, but you can add enough oil to cover the mixture if desired.