There's no denying I like things hot when it comes to food. I've long been a fan of chillies, but sadly back in my younger years it was only ever in the form of sweet chilli sauce or as Si's always liked to call it 'that chilli crap'. (Charming, I know. Obviously he's never been a fan!). It wasn't really until I met Si and his family that I even started cooking with fresh chillies at home on a regular basis, I admit it just seemed easier to have a bottle of the sweet stuff at hand to add that final burst of life to my cooking. I still remember one of the first meals I ever ate with my mother-in-law, I must have looked like a real dork, starring in shock as she sat at the table with her little pile of red-hot chillies, casually taking a nibble every few mouthfuls or so. My chilli loving tendencies instantly looked pathetic in comparison.
As my love for real chillies grew, I started to rely less and less on the bottled 'crap' and instead planted a couple of chilli plants out in our veggie garden (this was back when we still lived in NZ, nowadays I grow them in pots). I learnt to know which chillies I could handle, and which ones knocked my socks off (and brought tears to my eyes!). As Si is not a huge chilli fan and the kids only like teeny little hints of it, I adopted my mother-in-laws easy way to preserve them for later use- chuck them in the freezer in a bag and use straight from frozen. This means I always have 'fresh' chillies at hand, even in the depths of winter when the plants die off (partially here in Australia, or completely back home in NZ, thanks to the frosts). I'd say I eat at least 2 chillies everyday and can now say with pride, that my tolerance to the heat has improved a huge amount! Dare I say my mother-in-law might even be proud to now see me munch on the teeny (and super hot) birds eye chillies that we grow, just like she does.
It's been a good few years since I last bought sweet chilli sauce and while I have bought the odd bottle of Sriracha, I've never got into it in a big way (even though I love it!) after reading the ingredients list. When I saw this photo on instagram recently (from one of my favourite instagram discoveries!) of Shu's homemade Sriracha, it gave me the push I needed to finally try my hand at making it for myself too. And I gotta say, I'll be making sure there's always a bottle of this stuff in the fridge from now on. It's beyond good.
I couldn't help but tinker with the recipe a little- I halved it as I knew it would only be me eating it, I also used a couple of different ingredients and skipped the last step of reducing the sauce so I could keep all the fermented goodness alive. The end result is a tangy, hot but not in a tear-jerking way, flavour-packed chilli sauce that will keep me happy for months, or weeks, if I keep up with the rate I'm currently consuming it!
homemade sriracha sauce (raw + fermented)
The chillies in the photo directly above are our home grown super hot Birds Eye chillies, which I didn't actually use in this recipe. Use what we simply call 'Long red chillies' here in Australia and New Zealand, or Jalapeno/Serrano for those of you in the U.S.
15 long red chillies (I used Thai, but Serrano or Jalapeno would work too) (approx 300g)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons raw unrefined sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup (60ml) apple cider vinegar
Remove the tips from the chillies and roughly chop them up. Place into a small food processor, along with the garlic, sugar, salt and water and blend until a fine paste forms. Transfer mixture to a clean glass jar, screw the lid on loosely and leave in a warm place out of direct sunlight, for 3-5 days (3 if you live somewhere hot, like Perth. 5 if it's cooler where you live). After 3-5 days you will notice little pockets of air in the mixture, this is what you are after. Transfer mixture to a blender, along with the vinegar and blend to a smooth paste. Pass through a sieve (set over a bowl), and do your best to extract as much of the liquid as you can using the back of a metal spoon. Discard the solids and pour the chilli sauce into a clean glass jar. Refrigerate and use within a few months. I really like the consistency of this raw, but you can also reduce the sauce in a saucepan until the desired consistency is achieved if you prefer (but just know that some of the good enzymes you have created during the fermentation will be destroyed).