Today, I made hot sauce, and it was good. We bought a chilli plant, a ‘Basket of Fire’, a couple of weeks ago, and it was growing rather more chillies than we could use, so it seemed like a good thing to try. My plan was to make something inspired by Szechuan flavours – chilli, garlic and ginger.
This was my first attempt at making anything like this, and I’m sure there are plenty of things that could be done better, or at least differently, but the result was very tasty.
- As many chillies as I could get from two plants – mainly from the Basket of Fire, but a few more thrown in from a second plant. A fairly good handful, and they’re quite hot.
- One can of concentrated tomato puree (Tesco own brand, 142g, I think, but anything should do).
- Cider vinegar – I didn’t measure, but probably around 100ml or so.
- Garlic – two bulbs.
- Ginger – one root.
- Soy sauce – not a lot, probably less than 50ml.
- Thickening granules.
- Chop chillies finely, leave in bowl covered with cider vinegar and some salt.
- Mush garlic, in second bowl.
- Chop ginger thinly, add to second bowl, add soy sauce.
- Tomato puree in pan with some more cider vinegar. Add chilli mix and garlic/ginger mix.
- Add some water. I added water at a couple of different stages, and I think around two and a half of the tomato cans of water went in, so around 350ml.
- Simmer it all for a while.
- Use hand blender to blend the mix in the pan. Transfer to another container, rinse the pan.
- Transfer back to pan through sieve, pushing through with back of spoon to get as much liquidy stuff through as you can.
- Simmer a bit longer. It should be delicious at this point.
- Add some thickening granules to make it a bit less liquid.
To bottle it up:
- Get some old sauce bottles.
- Clean them, then boil them in a pan of water.
- Make sure everything that will contact the sauce is also boiled – ladle, funnel, everything.
- Scoop sauce into freshly-boiled bottles.
- Seal them while everything is still really hot.
The sauce, I think, should then keep for a good while, until it’s opened. Once opened, it should probably be kept in the fridge, and used within n weeks. No idea, really.
- The photos are a bit rubbish – just some quick iPhone shots I took while I was making it, not intending to share them publicly. The sauce turned out rather better than I was expecting, though, so I thought I’d write it up.
- I’ve no idea if it made a difference getting the chillies soaked in the vinegar, and the garlic and ginger soaked in soy sauce. It’s just what I did. I suspect it doesn’t matter at all.
- Sugar might have been nice, but Sam can’t have much sugar, so I didn’t use any, and it seems to have worked. Given that it’s supposed to be a bit Chinese-style, I’d probably have added some brown sugar if I could have.
- I don’t really know how the sterilising process should be done, but boiling everything that touched the food until it was sealed seems like it should be safe. I don’t think this stuff is going to last long enough to be a problem, anyway.
- I was going to use some plain white vinegar, but happened on a bottle of cider vinegar as I started, so I used that on a whim. Seemed to work out well, but white vinegar would probably be just as good.
- Less water would probably have made a stronger sauce, and might have been better, but I was aiming to make three 150ml bottles, and happened to end up with exactly that much sauce.
- A thicker sauce would be easier to use – it’s ended up a bit too liquid. Either less water or more thickening granules would probably do the job.
- If I’d had them, I’d probably have used more chillies, but I was keen to make this entirely with our home-grown chillies rather than adding any bought ones. It’s fairly hot as it is, but could stand being a bit hotter.
- I wouldn’t follow this recipe. Just get some ideas from it, if it sounds like the sort of thing you might want to do, then experiment with things you like the sound of. I think bananas would be interesting. The biggest lesson I took from doing this was that it can’t be too difficult if I managed to produce something good on my first go.