Share your hot sauce recipes
June 22, 2011 6:45 AM   Subscribe

This is the thread where you tell me how to make hot sauce.

I like hot sauce, from the complex, slightly funky Sriracha to the vinegary Crystal to the more traditional Mexican Tapatio and Cholula. As I also enjoy cooking, I would like to make my own sauce, but internet searches have not turned up results to my liking. So, Mefites, please hit me up with your favorite recipes, tips, and tricks for making your own homemade hot sauce, be it super-hot, fairly mild, or anywhere in between. If there is a site or forum out there that specializes in this kind of thing, I'd love to hear about that too.
posted by Aizkolari to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Chop up some crazy hot chillies and put them in a little bowl of fish or soy sauce. Let sit at room temperature for a few hours. Dip fried things in it.
posted by Ahab at 7:04 AM on June 22, 2011

One surprise for me when I had a spill/breakage of a bottle of coarse ground black pepper: I managed to rescue two tablespooons worth which I put into a bottle of olive oil along with the frozen remains of the last of my home grown chillis (about 8 small chillis). I decided on spec to add four cloves of garlic that were starting to look a teensy bit dessicated.

After just two days DAY-MM, if a few drops of this in a sandwich, added to salad dressings or as the basis of frying meats has really zinged up a few dishes! As the oil runs down I keep topping it up with fresh olive oil and it just seems to continue. You can clearly taste the two different burns from the Black pepper & the chillis.
posted by Wilder at 7:24 AM on June 22, 2011

It really can be as simple as going to the store and buying peppers. Roast them or don't, probably remove the seeds, and run them through a mortar and pestle or blender with some water and/or vinegar. If it is too hot, cut it down with some tomatillos. Hot sauce (as opposed to salsa) is pretty simple.

Watch "Mexico One Plate at a Time" with Rick Bayless (on PBS) to see examples.

(Also, wear gloves. I made some kick-ass hot sauce one time, but my hands, face and junk were not impressed. Even if you wash your hands, capsaicin tends to linger and spread. The burning!)
posted by gjc at 7:25 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, but my traditional hot sauces are either smokey or sweet

So I roast chillis with garlic, cool them & blend them with fresh tomatoes, salt, balsamic vinegar and then either smoked paprika powder OR pomegranate syrup.
posted by Wilder at 7:30 AM on June 22, 2011

Response by poster: These are all great suggestions, so thanks a ton. I would appreciate a little more guidance on the proportions of these recipes as well, if that's possible.

Also, not to detail, but, Wilder, I would be careful about having garlic floating around in olive oil for the long term, especially if it's unrefrigerated, due to botulism.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:37 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Sambals -- SE Asian chili sauces -- of various sorts are loosely described on wikipedia.

They're hard to find, but if you can get your hands on limau kesturi / calamondins / calamansi limes (they look key limes on the outside, but inside they're orange with big -- sometime turquoise! -- seeds; sometimes Vietnamese & Filipino groceries will have them), you can make my grandma's chili paste: grind fresh red chilies with salt, a teeny-tiny bit of ginger and garlic, and a liberal dash of limau juice. If you can't find them, the best way to approximate their taste is with a mix of lime & tangerine juice -- regular limes are too green-tasting. I can eat this with a spoon...
posted by Westringia F. at 7:49 AM on June 22, 2011

Fire up the BBQ and grill some jalapenos, at least 4 more if they are mild, a tomato and a slice of onion. You want the jalapenos to be good and charred and the onion and tomato to be softened. Cut the stems off of the jalapenos and put everything in a sauce pan with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Puree the entire batch and add salt to taste. You can use tomatillos instead of the tomato if you want or add vinegar or oregano to the sauce to adjust the taste. The grilling gives the sauce a really nice full flavour.
posted by calumet43 at 8:51 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am greatly taken by this recipe for chiu chow chilli oil. What they do not tell you though is that you should pour the hot oil into the jar outside: otherwise you will stink your house out. Also, make three or four times the quantity in the recipe. It's the crack cocaine of the capsicum world.
posted by rhymer at 8:52 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not exactly a sauce, but here is the worlds greatest Chipotle Rub recipe. The only thing I do differently from the recipe is that I don't fry the chipotles as the ones I get are very dry. I also don't bother with the initial grinding of the chilies -- I just crumble them up with my hands once they cooled. I use it on almost anything --steaks and corn-on-the-cob being my current favorites.
posted by rtimmel at 9:34 AM on June 22, 2011

I think that you are likely to find that there are no hard and fast ratios of ingredients.

Hot sauce, in its most basic form, is basically nothing more than hot peppers, vinegar and water. The amount of each depends on your personal preference. The most common extra ingredient is garlic. And again, how much is pretty much entirely up to you.

Other common variants include using apple cider vinegar for a sweeter sauce than you get with standard white vinegar and adding carrots for sweetness and complexity.

I really like roasting 1.5lbs of tomatillos, 4 cloves of garlic, 3 - 5 jalapenos (remove seeds after roasting) until the items are lightly charred (flip once). then combining all of this in a food processor with vinegar to taste. Puree, let sit for about an hour, and your're done. (I add the vinegar after pureeing.)

Playing around with ingredients and ratios can be a lot of fun. Enjoy!
posted by oddman at 10:04 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was given a whole bunch of fresh bhut jolokias last year. About two dozen of them. I pureed them (with seeds) and a bunch of other nasty peppers (habaneros, carribean reds, serranos, scotch bonnets, and tabascos) in a food processor until it was a paste of hot peppery death. I also added a couple cloves of fresh garlic, to add some flavor.
I put the paste in a sealable container and added a fifth of Everclear (180 proof grain alcohol) because capsaicin is soluble in ethanol, not in water. I let it sit for about five months in a cool dark place. After the long soak, I carefully filtered out the pulp and returned the ruby red burn juice to the container. I put the container back in the cool dark place, but opened the lid a crack to let the ethanol evaporate. About three weeks later, it was down to about one fourth of its original quantity.

The recommended sampling protocol for this horrible stuff is to dip a clean toothpick in it, then touch the wet end to your tongue, carefully so as to avoid getting any on your lips or hands. The result is best described as brutal.

I also kept some of the surplus tabasco peppers to try making my own tabasco sauce. I pureed them in the food processor, then boiled the pulp in a mixture of half water, half white vinegar. Added a little salt to taste, mashed thoroughly and filtered out the skins and seeds. The result tastes a lot like store bought but it's about 2x the heat.
posted by leapfrog at 11:13 AM on June 22, 2011

Check out The Joy of Pickling. It has a whole section on fermented and non-fermented hot sauces, some with fruit.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:31 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bonehead and I prefer a hot sauce with a bit of a fruity tang to it. I also don't cook my hot sauce, so bear in mind this needs to go in the fridge for storage.

1-2 white nectarines or peaches
5-7 fresh cayenne peppers
1 red bell pepper (optional)
1 bunch of parsley stems

Peel and pit the nectarines/peaches. Split, stem and seed the peppers. Place all items in a food processor and swizz, adding enough apple cider vinegar to loosen the mixture to your preferred consistency. Salt to taste. Scrape into a tupperware or sterilized mason jar and store in fridge. By playing with the proportion of red bell pepper to cayennes, you can make this as mild as salsa or as hot as cayennes go.
posted by LN at 11:51 AM on June 22, 2011

Here's a recipe from Saveur. All told, it will take about a week to get you there.
posted by Gilbert at 12:24 PM on June 22, 2011

Oddly enough, I just watched a How It's Made episode last night on Tabasco, of all things. The 2 things that stood out to me were the long fermentation process (3 years in oak barrels sealed with salt) and the cider vinegar. The fermentation process cuts the acidity and the burn, apparently.

They also hand-pick the peppers at only a specific color of ripeness.

When I make any forms of pepper sauces, I use surgical gloves and remove the seeds. Yes I am a wimp, thanks for asking. Roasted scotch bonnet (habanero) and garlic with cider vinegar is a favorite of mine.
posted by lonefrontranger at 1:29 PM on June 22, 2011

See this question/answers.
posted by plinth at 2:07 PM on June 22, 2011

One easy recipe which is a bit different from ordinary hot sauce is harissa. This stuff lasts at least a month or so in the fridge, and is especially fantastic smeared on grilled chicken.
posted by vorfeed at 3:00 PM on June 22, 2011

like sun tea, you can make sun hot sauce. just soak some peppers in vinegar for like, a month.
posted by custard heart at 3:27 PM on June 22, 2011

I have a few bottles of this in the fridge from a bumper crop of habs a couple of years ago. I'd describe it as fresh, clean, pure - the heat 'sings' and the citrusy hab shines through. Go by weight, not numbers - I watched him make this on TV and his homegrown habs were gigantic, and I needed many more than 12 chiles to make up the same weight. It separates in the bottle over time, but a quick shake and you're good.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:21 PM on June 22, 2011

Oh, and if you like fruity, thicker sauces, try replicating Mrs H S Ball's chutney (it pours, so I'm counting it as a sauce). (There's a recipe further down in the comments that looks intriguing, too.)

Damn, now I need a fat pork sausage, grilled over charcoal, stuffed in a crusty roll, topped with grilled onions and slathered with Balls.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:30 PM on June 22, 2011

Here's my imitation Frank's that I posted in another thread.

I love XO Sauce but it's bloody expensive. I make my own now. Yes, it's still pretty expensive.

Amounts approximate

1/4 dry lb (~1 cup) conpoy1
1/2 dry lb (~1.5 cups) dried prawns (about 1-2cm long) 2
1/2 dry lb (~1.5 cups) small dried shrimp (about 0.5cm long)
1 cup jalapeno peppers (minced)
1 cup red chilies (minced)3
1/2 cup garlic (minced)
1 cup shallot onions (shredded)

Soak dried conpoy in just enough liquid to cover. Liquid consists of 1/4 mirin, 3/4 water, and a tablespoon of dark soy. Do same with the dried prawns and the small dried prawns. Overnight in the fridge is great.

Once re-hydrated, the conpoy you can rub between your fingers to break up. The small dried shrimp can go in as is, the large prawns I dice down (a 2cm guy ends up being 4-6 smaller pieces). This is very time consuming. The large dried prawns you might be able to do in a food processor. Same with the vegetable matter.

After breaking up/cutting, squeeze as dry as possible. Heat oil (I use 1/8 sesame, 7/8 canola - about 3 cups to start; enough to cover, essentially) to medium; not too hot, but enough to vapourize the water content of anything you put into it. Add shredded seafood. Stir/break up in the heated oil. Continue heating until bubbles stop forming. Depending on the heat and the specifics of your seafood, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Add more oil (another 2-3 cups), bring to heat, then add the vegetable matter. Continue heating while stirring until bubbles stop forming.

Cool, aliquot.

If anyone is interested, (m)email me with an address and I can send you pictures for relative amounts.

1 The smaller pea-sized ones don't taste very good/poor texture, bigger $0.25 quarter (and bigger) sized are super expensive. Go for the "loose"/crushed/otherwise-not-whole. A lot cheaper. You want medium coloured ones.

2 Do not buy super-red ones; it's dye and who the hell knows what dye it is. The very pale ones don't taste as good. You want ones that are a warm pink. And not a lot of crusties (legs, tail flipper bits, thick shells).

3 you can scape out the seeds for less heat, leave the seeds for increased heat. I personally get rid of about half the seeds - wearing latex/nitrile gloves, I slice the chilies open with a paring knife, then scrape the seeds into a mesh strainer before mincing the chili body. This can be a very painful exercise. The extra seeds I use to make chili-infused oil.

posted by porpoise at 5:41 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

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