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Red, red chiles and homemade sriracha

When we came home from vacation last week, the ever-abundant jalapeño and serrano chile plants in our garden were heavy with ripe, red and ready-to-rot fruit. If I wanted to use this bounty, I figured that I had only three options: I could make an inedibly spicy dinner that night. I could pick the peppers and stick them in the back of the vegetable crisper to continue rotting. Or I could try and devise some way to preserve them.

And so I decided to make my own version of sriracha sauce. Reading the label on the back of the Huy Fong bottle, the recipe seemed to consist of little more than ripe red chiles, sugar, garlic and vinegar.

Easy enough. I coarsely chopped the red chiles as well as a few green ones with some garlic and tossed them with several spoonfuls of sugar to macerate, much like berries for a pie. I covered the bowl and forgot about them until the next day.

At that point, the soupy chilies found their way to the blender. I added some seasoned rice vinegar, some salt and a small can of tomato paste. I know. Real sriracha — neither the popular Huy Fong brand nor the several Thai versions — contains tomato paste. But I was concerned that I wouldn’t get the right, ketchupy texture without it.

Once the sauce was blended, it was simply a matter of pushing the puree through a wire mesh sieve to remove the seeds and skins to get that ketchupy results.

The flavor was at first blatantly sweet and extremely spicy — kind of like the bastard child of red pepper chow chow and sriracha. But it mellowed after a few days in the fridge into something more intriguing. So far, everyone in our household seems to enjoy it as an alternative to the regular sriracha. We’ve liked it on tuna burgers, stirred into ratatouille, with grilled chicken thighs and off of fingers.

If you have more peppers than you know what to do with, you might try this recipe:

Homemade Sweet Sriracha

  • About 25 ripe serranos or 12 ripe jalapeños, or a mixture of the two, coarsely chopped
  • 4-6 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 heaping tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar, plus more as needed
Combine the chiles, garlic, sugar and water in a non-reactive bowl. Cover with film and leave at room temperature at least two hours or overnight.
Transfer contents of bowl to the base of blender and add remaining ingredients. Add more vinegar, as needed, to achieve a texture similar to that of ketchup. Add more salt to taste, if desired. Strain through a wire-mesh sieve into a bowl, pushing and scraping with a rubber spatula.
Store in clean jars in the refrigerator. You may also can this sauce in sterilized jars according to canning procedure. Makes about 2 cups.

2 comments Add your comment


August 21st, 2009
4:36 pm

I *hope* one day I have so many veggies in my garden I don’t know what to do with them. All I have are a few cherry tomatoes a day, and a ton of mint (which we decided to turn into mojitos).

John Kessler

August 25th, 2009
9:39 am

When life hands you mint (and a bottle of Bacardi)…