Homemade chili crisp?

I was craving Italian fennel sausage but had nothing remotely like that. I did have the last bit of a jar of Lao Gan Ma chili crisp that was all dry bits with no oil. So I fried some fennel seed in rice bran oil until it was crisp and mixed it with the chili crisp. It was great.

This makes me think I should just make my own. Does anyone have a recipe they like? The Serious Eats one seems too far from the original for me.

The crunchy dry soybeans are a mystery to me. Maybe this?

I was literally thinking about homemade chili crisp this morning and the crunchy soybeans specifically. I don’t have a crispy soybean recipe (sorry), but I’ve used this knockoff Burma Superstar tea leaf salad recipe in the past and the technique for the crunchy lentils works surprisingly well.

When I’ve tried to think about how to replicate the same thing with soybeans I’ve considered the Good Eats recipe for leblebi. The original recipe in the episode was crazy fussy with a brick constructed contrivance, etc. but that version looks a little more reasonable.

Obviously soybeans and chickpeas aren’t a 1:1 swap for a lot of reasons (eg, the large difference in protein vs complex carbs) but I’d start there. Since you’d also be making (I assume) a fairly small volume of crispy soybeans I might recommend the frying technique used for the lentils since that would have a likelier chance of driving off moisture and making the outside crunchy without causing the inside to be hard/desiccated.

Lentils would work for me. I have tons of them and no soybeans.

Then I definitely recommend the technique in the link! A few things to keep in mind:

  • Because of the higher surface to volume ratio of a lentil vs a chickpea or soybean the difference between crunchy and hard is probably a shorter span of time when frying so use color to judge when to remove (light browning) and remember that residual heat will continue to cook it

  • I recommend an uncoated lentil or split pea because I think the husk interferes with the hydration and subsequent frying

If you do try it, please report back! Like I said, I’ve used this technique for a crunchy lentil by itself but not in a sauce. The reason I was thinking of lentils specifically in this application is because the person I was hoping to make it for is allergic to a lot of things so I wanted to give them something crunchy that’s not nut or carb based.

The crunch should theoretically be at least somewhat retained since it’s submerged in oil and no air/moisture can get to it but I’d appreciate an actual test of the theory!