I’m just going to step up to the plate and say out loud that I am a hot sauce fiend. It’s one of the reasons I love Korean food so much, spicy makes the world amazing. Honestly, making your own hot sauce is really easy, kinda awesome, and completely customizable. So far I’ve made sesame mango hot sauces, green and red jalapeno sauces, and am about to embark on a new blended hot sauce. There are only three base ingredients that are one hundred percent essential to the process, peppers, salt, and vinegar, after that you can really add whatever flavorings you want to impact the sauce. Pretty much what you’re looking for is a double fermentation process. You’re going to start out chopping and salting your peppers to bring out the liquid in them, this liquid is going to ferment over night. Then you’ll agitate the whole mixture by using a stick blender(or working in a blender in batches) to make it smooth. Then it can be thrown into a larger container and mixed with the vinegar, cover, and keep in a cool dark place. I’ve only ever done this with the lid fully on during the second fermentation period, but I’m thinking about experimenting with using a cheese cloth lid to let the bacteria causing the fermentation to breath, potentially making it stronger and deeper in character. Anywho, here’s a nice sample recipe for a delicious “buffalo” inspired red hot sauce
- 1/2# – Peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped (1/4# Red Jalapenos and 1/4# Red Fresnos)
- 2tbs – Salt
- 1 1/2c – Distilled White Vinegar
- When finished roughly chopping peppers, add salt and thoroughly combine. The reason you’re roughly chopping, and breaking the cell walls is to force the peppers to release more liquid and making the fermentation happen faster
- Leave the salted peppers for around 12 hours, I left mine for almost 19 and it wasn’t too sour or powerful
- Use an immersion blender or a regular blender(working in batches) and pure the pepper until it’s as smooth as you can get it
- Add the vinegar, and stir to combine, if you have the immersion blender you can blend again after adding the vinegar.
- Place peppers (covered with lid) in a cool dark area of the house for 11 days. After four days taste the sauce every day, when it hits the flavor profile you’re looking for throw it in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process.
- At the end of the process you can blend the whole thing again, at which time you have an important decision. Do you put the peppers through a cheese cloth and only retain the juice? Do you pour the peppers through a china cap large whole strainer and let a little sediment get in your sauce, or do you just serve it as it is? I like straining it and using the left over jalapeno pulp with brown sugar and lime to make a nice crust for a white fish, dressed with a drizzle of buffalo sauce. No way is wrong, so play around.
Just a note, you can play with your flavors by increasing/lowering the amount of vinegar you use. If you taste it and it’s more spicy than tart you can add more vinegar, and vice versa. Play around and make it your own!
*To make it in to a delicious buffalo sauce, just combine with an equal portion of melted butter and whisk to combine while bringing to a simmer, about two minutes.