Sriracha Chili Sauce

Nahm Prik Sriracha

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While browsing my indispensable Lonely Planet guide one day in Bangkok, I noticed the small Southern seaport village of Sriracha on a map. It was only a few hours away. The next day we hopped a bus headed south to the gulf of Thailand. Upon arrival, I proceeded to ask anyone who would listen how the town’s namesake chili sauce was made. Everyone, from restaurateurs and housewives to “average Joes” on the street gave me the same puzzled look, and insisted that everyone buys the stuff, and only the factories know how to make it. I never found the source on that trip, this recipe was developed by talking with Thai cooks, tasting the bottled sauces in Thailand and the USA and figuring it out.

With this recipe, it will only take you moments to transform red chilies, garlic, salt, fish sauce, sugar, and vinegar into this smooth brilliant red sauce. If you want to plan ahead and invest more time a few days of fermenting the chilies really develops a more complex flavor. From its humble beginnings in this small seaside town, Sriracha chili sauce has become one of the most used sauces in fusion foods. It’s added to mayonnaise for spicy sushi rolls, squeezed on French fries with ketchup, and bottles of this Thai sauce can curiously be found in nearly every Vietnamese restaurant to accompany the classic beef noodle soup.

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Ingredients

  • 16 (about ¾ lb.) Long red chilies or other hot red chilies, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • ¾ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Fish sauce (nahm pla)
  • 1 Tbsp. Granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Water
  • ¼ cup Distilled (white) vinegar

Method

    Quick Cooked Version

  1. In small saucepan, combine chilies, garlic, salt, fish sauce and water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.
  2. Transfer to blender; add vinegar, and puree until very smooth (about 5 minutes). Strain through fine wire mesh sieve, pushing as much as possible through the sieve. Add water as needed to adjust consistency.
  3. Store in refrigerator for up to one month, but tastes best within first week.

    Fermented Cooked Version

  1. Combine chilies, garlic, salt, fish sauce, sugar in food processor and chop finely, transfer to small container, cover well and keep at room temperature for 3 to 4 days until it begins to bubble slightly.
  2. In small saucepan, bring fermented chili mixture to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.
  3. Transfer to blender; add vinegar, and puree until very smooth (about 5 minutes). Strain through fine wire mesh sieve, pushing as much as possible through the sieve. Add water as needed to adjust consistency.
  4. Store in refrigerator for up to one month, but it tastes best within first week.

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