Tuesday, May 10, 2011

homemade sriracha

homemade sriracha
those who know me,
know that i will never get
over the thrill - a thrill that
is probably only mine - of making
something in my kitchen that
a saner person would settle for
coming out of a bottle, box or bakery.

so, i appreciate my small doses of joy,
and preserved lemons, and other things
like beer mustard, grape nuts,
graham crackers and sesame-topped
hamburger buns, which
i don't think i've ever told you about.
(scratch that - i did talk briefly about
the buns.) i always keep my eyes
open for the next homemade adventure.

i discovered the newest project to
make my family ask why,
(why, brooke, why?
you know you can just buy that, right?)
several months ago,
tucked into the finalist page of
food52. the contest was
your best condiment and
the candidate i was instantly
drawn to was
to be honest, this one was chosen as the
runner up and i cannot remember what won.

(ok, to be fair (or maybe meaner?),
i just looked up the winner.
it is called
maybe i never knew?
i think i would have remembered
something with a name like that.)

but, i've digressed.
back to the rooster.

we are a family who
always has sriracha in the fridge door
(along with too many other hot sauces,
mustards and other condiments to count),
so how could i pass up the opportunity to
make a from-scratch batch?
fresno chili peppers
there was only one roadblock:
red fresno chilies. i could not find
them anywhere and when a recipe
only has 5 ingredients, i think it's
a pretty good idea to stick closely
to the original.

i looked in my local grocery stores.
i looked in my asian markets.
i asked people, from my friends to
my boss, to keep an eye out for red fresnos,
promising that i'd pay them back and
give them sriracha for their troubles.
my (now former) boss said ok,
but i think he was surprised and tried,
as was his right to do, to promptly
forget the request.

and then, because everything has
just been slightly easier over the past
couple weeks, i turned around in
a new-to-me market and realized
i was staring at a basket of them.
i grabbed three handfuls and headed
to the scale, shocked that i had
pulled exactly 1/2 pound and thinking
maybe this was a sign that the recipe
was meant to be.
when i got home,
i set to work seeding and chopping
the peppers using my wing and a prayer
method: don't use gloves and then
cross your fingers that you don't
accidentally touch your eyes.

i tossed them into a container with
a few giant cloves of garlic,
distilled white vinegar and kosher salt.
i shook it a couple times, because
i can't leave well enough alone, and
faced the consequences the next morning
when i accidentally tipped a good tablespoon
or two onto the counter.
fresnos, garlic, salt, vinegar
later that next day,
i tossed the whole lot into a
small saucepot with a few tablespoons
of tropical, gooey palm sugar, let the whole
thing simmer for five minutes and then,
waited really impatiently for the
mixture to cool. after 10 minutes,
steam was still rising from the top.
so, i transferred it to the blender,
hoping it would cool faster outside
of the hot pot. after 10 more minutes,
i couldn't take it. i wanted out of the
kitchen. sometimes i get like that.
simmered, about to blend
so, i took my chances, tossed a dish towel
over the blender, hit puree and pressed on the lid
with all my might, praying that larry wouldn't
come home to me and our schoolhouse slate-colored
walls, covered in chili sauce. he didn't have to.
and two minutes into the blending, i gathered
up the nerve to let go and take a picture.

i almost didn't strain the mixture.
it seemed like the right consistency, and frankly,
i have a certain hatred for straining, especially
when recipes instruct you to press hard to
extract all the liquids. but i did and it was
barely any work.
and, then, i tasted the sriracha,
worried that i would be forced to admit
that i should have, for once,
just left well enough
alone and continued to buy our
standard squeeze bottle.

but, happily, that is not the case.
this recipe does everything it promises -
delivering the same flavor we expect
from our asian chili sauce, but significantly
fresher, less salty and, as i already knew
from the ingredients, without the
crazy preservatives.

and, i'm sure you'll be shocked to know:
i think it was totally worth it.
ready to store
homemade sriracha
adapted from edamame2003 via food52
i wasn't sure if i was meant to seed the peppers or not - it didn't say in the recipe (which i think most people would take to mean, don't seed). i opted to take the seeds out, worried about the potential spice level if they were kept in. but, i did make the decision not to sweat it if some seeds made their way into the vinegar. i was very happy with the spice level, but for a spicier sauce, i'm guessing you could keep them all in.

also - as i think you can see from the picture, the chili sauce was slightly foamy when first made. that went away after it spent a night in the fridge.

1/2 pound red fresno chili peppers
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and trimmed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons palm sugar

halve peppers; seed (or don't - see note). chop peppers. place in jar or container with lid; add garlic, salt and vinegar. stir; cover tightly. let sit overnight.

the next day, transfer mixture to small saucepot; add palm sugar and stir to combine. over high heat, bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. let simmer 5 minutes. remove from heat; let cool.

transfer cooled mixture to blender; puree 5 minutes, or until smooth and mixture is an orange-reddish color. pour into strainer set in bowl; pressing to release as much liquid as possible. (it may seem a little thin, but it will thicken up in the fridge.)

transfer chili sauce to a jar, bottle or squeeze container. the mixture should keep for about 1 month.

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