Last year was the first time that I saw locally grown red Fresno chiles at our farmers's market. I bought a bunch and kept them in the vegetable bin, saying to myself that I’d make chile sauce with them. The chiles lingered for a month(chiles keep very well) until after Thanksgiving, when the #Srirachapocalyspe chile sauce shortage inspired me to make homemade Sriracha chile sauce
Instead of my usual homemade Thai Sriracha recipe, I tried one from Singapore. The reason is that I was curious about the Chinese imprint on a Southeast Asian-style chile sauce. That, at heart, is what drives many Singaporean dishes. I selected a recipe by Christopher Tan and Amy Van, the folks who authored the Chinese Heritage Cooking, the source of my old school rendition of sweet and sour pork.
Their recipe intrigued me because instead of palm sugar, they used Chinese rock sugar (sold at Chinese and Vietnamese markets in plastic bags or boxes). I think you can try subbing organic cane sugar and a touch of honey. And for the vinegar, it was unseasoned rice vinegar. Both of those ingredients are mellowing in nature and I wanted to see what they produced in a hot sauce. On the other hand, there were 10 cloves of garlic. Yowza.
The only caveat is that because of the cool temps in my home (about 65F), I let the chile and garlic mixture sit for 3 weeks on my counter to mellow out. The recipe, developed for Singapore’s equatorial climate, required a fermentation was about five days.
My locally grown Fresno chiles were really hot so I finessed the flavor with extra regular sugar. They were also very firm and dryish – not juicy and fleshy, so I strained the solids twice, adding extra water to remove more fiery goodness. I backed up my yield to the one in the recipe so I could get close to their flavor.
It took weeks to ferment – and maybe you could put it in a cold oven with the light on for a few days to hasten the process, but the finished Singaporean chile sauce had a bright heat and delicate sweetness. It raises the hairs in my nostrils whenever I taste it from a spoon or tip of a chopstick. The garlic wasn’t overpowering at all. It was a strangely elegant hot sauce.
The original recipe was titled “All-Purpose Chilli Sauce” but it’s very similar to the familiar Sriracha sauce, hence I’m tweaking the name here. Use a digital scale for precision.
How to use this sauce? I’ve been using this Singaporean Sriracha sauce as I would regular Sriracha. Chris and Amy suggest it as a table condiment, or dressing for noodles, and heating up sauces and fried rice. You get the point.
Singaporean Sriracha Sauce
Yields: 1 1/3 cups (330 ml)
- 12 ounces (350 g) Fresno chile or other moderately-hot red chiles
- 20 red Thai chiles
- 10 cloves garlic
- .8 oz (25 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed
- 1 ounce (30 g) yellow rock sugar
- 6 tablespoons (90 ml) unseasoned rice vinegar
- Wash and dry both kinds of chiles well, then dry thoroughly. Discard the stem but keep little green part that looks like a star. Coarsely chop, then put into a food processor. Add garlic. Process to a rough chopped texture. Add the sugar and salt, then pulse to combine.
- Transfer to a clean, glass jar. Cover with a piece of wax paper or loosely cover with plastic wrap. Set aside at room temperature for 4 to 5 days. Each day, stir with a clean spoon. The mixture should bubble slightly as it ferments. (After I kept mine for 3 weeks, the sweet heat mellowed nicely. The stuff didn’t spoil so you could keep for longer than 5 days.)
- Pour the fermented chile mixture into a saucepan. Add the water, rock sugar, and vinegar. Bring to simmer, and maintain that gentle cooking for 5 to 6 minutes. Off heat, taste and adjust the flavor with sugar, salt and vinegar – to get a hot, salty, and slightly sour flavor. Let cool completely.
- Puree in a blender until smoothie-like. Strain through a mesh strainer, pressing on the solids. You should have about 1 1/3 cups. Stir in a little water and restrain, if needed. Store in a jar or bottle in the refrigerator.
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