My partner is a chili fiend. Hotter the better. One of his favourite breakfasts is a poached egg with chilli sauce. He will put chilli on practically anything.
We have chillis in the garden, lots of them, but he spotted a bottle of chilli sauce at a market, labelled “Warning – very, very hot chillies”, so of course he had to take up the challenge.
And of course then I had to take up the challenge of reproducing it.
This is straight hot sauce – just chilies, vinegar and salt. Depending how hot your chillies are, it can be anything from magma to mildly spicy. Its simplicity is its strength – you can add it to anything without muddying flavours.
It’s hardly worth a recipe.
Halve your chillies and remove some or most of the seeds. Use gloves, or really really remember not to touch your face for hours afterwards. The seeds make it hotter, but I find that leaving all of them in gives it a bit too much bitterness.
Put them in a blender and cover with vinegar. I just use plain white vinegar, but it won’t matter what kind you use. Blend until it is semi-smooth – you want a little bit of texture in hot sauce. Add half a teaspoon of salt for each cup of blend.
Pour the mix into a slow cooker, or into a non-reactive pot on a very low heat, and cook for as long as you like till it is thick and reduced. Don’t use an aluminium or cast iron pot – the vinegar will pick up a metallic taste. Use pyrex or enamel or stainless steel for anything with a lot of acid.
While the chillies are cooking, sterilize some bottles. I would have used little, screw top bottles if I had any. Because it is preserved in vinegar, the sauce doesn’t need hot bathing afterwards so you don’t need pop-in lids, and it will be used as a pour or drip on sauce. Sterilize bottles by boilingfor 15 minutes, or by pressure cooking for 5 minutes. Or, if you have a microwave you can use that.
When it is the right consistency, taste your sauce and adjust the salt to taste. Bottle in your sterilized bottles. If the bottles and lids are sterile, it should last on the shelf for many months.