So we grew a bunch of Serrano peppers this year and they really took off. So again we find ourselves asking the question, “what do we do with all of this stuff?” The Serranos are a hot pepper (think 2x Jalapeno) with anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 Scoville units (the standard “hotness” rating system for chili peppers). This batch runs closer to 25,000- very spicy. We used the Serranos in Tom Yum Goong and in some other dishes, but we needed to use up the bulk of them. Time to make our own hot sauce. We were a bit worried that even in sauce the Serranos would be too hot, but this experiment turned out much better than expected.
There are a number of ways to make hot sauce, but we chose to use a “Louisiana-style” sauce recipe and tune it somewhat. Most sauces in this style are a mix of peppers, vinegar, salt and aromatics- think Tabasco sauce. But we also like sweeter, fermented hot sauces like Sriracha. So we figured we could split the difference, but use a quick recipe. The key was to use slightly less Serrano pepper (plenty hot, regardless) and add a little sugar to the recipe. Sugar softens the heat of the peppers and adds some depth and complexity to the vinegary bite of the sauce.
So now that we had the recipe, we made the sauce. But here comes the warning: if you try to make this recipe- make SURE to cook the sauce in a well-ventilated area. Open the windows. Send your loved ones out for ice cream. Be ready to cough a bit. Why? Well, the peppers will send out some seriously hot, caustic vapors when you cook them. The vapor clears quickly, and won’t kill you (but you may wish you were dead if you breathe in too much), but it’s best not to “share” the experience with others.
Happily, once you cook the peppers and the air clears, the rest of the process is easy. Process the pepper mixture with an immersion blender, blender or food processor and add the vinegar. Then strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer or Chinoise. Taste (just a bit) and add salt or more vinegar, to taste. Let the sauce steep for a few days (a few weeks will be better) and then use it however you like. We like the hot sauce with coconut rice or even as a dip for veggies. This hot sauce will clear your sinuses, but it does taste good.
Notes Before You Start:
- The recipe uses 8 ounces of Serrano peppers, but will work with other hot peppers. Check their Scoville rating here, and then adjust the recipe as needed.
- You really want to make the sauce in a well-ventilated area. Seriously. This sauce is better than store-bought and worth making, but you still want your family to love you when you’re done. Exercise caution.
What You Get: Very tasty hot sauce. Spicy, but with sweet notes.
What You Need: No special equipment required but open windows and a kitchen fan are a good idea.
How Long? About 40 minutes to make, with 10 minutes active time. The sauce benefits from a few weeks of aging in the fridge, but is ready to eat immediately.
(Makes about 1 and 1/2 cups)
- 8 oz. Serrano, or other hot peppers, stemmed and cut lengthwise into thin slices
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup white onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons brown or turbinado (“raw”) sugar
- 1 cup white or cider vinegar
- Make sure the cooking area is well-ventilated. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and then the peppers onions, garlic and salt. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the water and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water evaporates, 15-20 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Puree the mixture with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor. Add the vinegar and mix until combined. Run the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or Chinoise. Taste and add salt or a dash of vinegar, if needed. Pour the sauce into a sterilized, non-reactive container and steep in the fridge for 2-14 days. The sauce will keep in the fridge for 3-4 months.
- Another Hot Sauce Trick: Refermenting Hot Sauce (wellpreserved.ca)
- Fermented Hot Sauce – The 2012 Version (wellpreserved.ca)
- Hot Headed: DIY Sriracha-inspired fresh chile garlic sauce (revelkitchen.com)