Saturday, October 6, 2012

Homemade Sriracha Sauce

It only takes a casual reading of this blog to know that I'm nuts about hot stuff and sriracha sauce is one of my favorite condiments.  I put it in almost all the soups. If I don't put it in while I'm making it because I'm not sure about the heat tolerance of the people I'm cooking for, you can be sure that I'll at least add some to my bowl.

Usually, I use the commercial stuff made by the Huy Fong company of southern California that one buys at the store - the lovely red bottle with the green cap and the rooster on the front.  Some people call it rooster sauce or even <raise an eyebrow> cock sauce.  Whatever, it is delicious and makes almost everything you put it on taste better.
 If you read the list of ingredients on the label, you'll see this stuff is made of chilis, sugar, salt, vinegar, and garlic with some preservatives and a thickening agent added.

My friend Alan Zak, from Florida, sent me a box full of his homegrown red-ripe Fresno peppers, which were just beautiful.  It's hard to eat a whole lot of fresh hot peppers, so to do them justice, I decided to try and my my own sriracha sauce.

I rinsed the peppers and peeled the cloves of a whole head of fresh garlic.  I laid them all out together into a large flat baking dish and put them into a hot 400 F oven.  When I could smell them, and believe me the smell soon permeated my small apartment, I shook the pan to make sure everything was not stuck and to flip them over.  When the peppers were soft and looking roasted and the garlic cloves were soft and slightly browned, I took them out and let them cool.

Hot peppers get their heat from capsaicin, which is concentrated most heavily in the seeds and the whitish membranes surrounding the seeds.  If you decide to try and make this, you have a decision to make.  If you want a milder sauce, you'll need to slice each pepper lengthwise and use a knife to gently scrape out and discard the membranes and seeds.  This is a lot of work, and for me, the hotter the better, so I did not do that.  I just tore the stems off with my fingers and threw the whole peppers into a blender.  When you are working with the peppers, do not touch your face - especially your eyes.  If you do, you'll find out what it feels like to be an Occupy protester at UC Davis, only not as much.  If you have sensitive skin, wear latex gloves while you do this.

Into the blender went (I didn't measure anything, quantities are approximate. Adjust to taste.):
  • the peppers
  • the roasted garlic cloves
  • about 1/4 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 Tbs sugar
  • few drops of liquid smoke
I blended until it was smooth and stored in a tightly closed glass jar.

My sriracha is not as smooth and more garlicky than the commercial product and it is quite a bit hotter.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it chili garlic sauce.  Nevertheless, it is really delicious and I've been using it instead of rooster sauce lately, and will for as long as it lasts.  Next spring, I think I'll plant some pepper bushes of my own.  Thanks Alan!