Fresno Chili Sauce

Hot Sauce

Fresno Chilies always catch my eye. They are big, bright, lethal… very dramatic! But I wasn’t convinced about the lethal part. I thought being an Indian I would be immune to extreme spices and a few big chilies wouldn’t make me cry. So when I tasted the first dollop of the sauce (yes… a dollop!!), I could feel my ears warm up and fume out, quite literally. This was followed by teary eyes and heavy sniffing. So here is a warning, this sauce is HOT HOT HOT!!!

Indians love chilies. Red or green, thick or thin, long or small, powder or whole, we use them in all forms in everything we cook. I particularly enjoy the dominance of spice in coastal food. Provided there is a box of tissues next to me, I can devour bowls of red fish curry, plates of chicken ghee roast and bottles of prawn balchao. You will find me fanning my mouth as I eat but since they are so darn tasty I eat them very quickly and look around to find a dessert to pacify my disturbed and agitated taste buds.

This hot sauce is spicy, pungent and full of flavor; and it does not have the jar-ry taste of store bought hot sauce. Also, making it is super simple. I roasted the chilies with olive oil before blending them to make sure they are fully cooked and had a nice char on them. This makes them pulpy, juicy and gives the sauce a superb smoky flavor. After this, I blitzed the chilies with enough vinegar to help them move around and juice out the flavor. I added a little brown sugar because I believe sugar and spice go really well together. It soothes the acidity of the vinegar and the chilies without really disturbing the spice or flavor of the sauce.

Partially roasted chilies

The recipe makes a good 450 ml of hot sauce and if you are anything like me, you will have the urge to use it in everything you make. For example, I made lamb vindaloo on Sunday and while I was cooking the curry, I noticed that it didn’t have the zing-zang in it. I promptly opened my fridge and added a tablespoon of my beautiful hot sauce to the curry. And since vindaloo is anyway a fiery mix of vinegar and spices, the vinegar in the hot sauce didn’t really bother the tone of the curry. It turned out to be fantastic.

I also used this sauce to make chilli mayo for sandwiches and salads, as dipping sauce for fried chicken (buckets and buckets of KFC were consumed in the presence of my hot sauce), drizzled it over stir fried noodles for some spice and parceled it in tiny boxes to fellow Goan friends.

Note to self: Must ask for a bottle of prawn balchao in return. Hmm…

Ingredients – for around 450ml hot sauce

Adapted from I made that!

500 g Fresno chillies
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
16-17 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Wash and dry the chilies well. Toss them into a pan and drizzle over the olive oil to coat the chilies well. Fry them on medium flame for around 20 minutes. Transfer the chilies into a baking tray and slow roast them in the oven for 30 minutes, or till they are completely deflated and pulpy.
    Fully roasted chiliesNote: If you do not have an oven, continue to fry the chilies on the pan until they are completely soft.
  3. Take the chilies out and allow them to cool to room temperature.
  4. Put the chilies, vinegar, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse it till it is very smooth.
  5. Pass the sauce through a sieve to remove the skin bits and seeds. Make sure you keep pushing the sauce out of the sieve using the back of a spoon.

Storage: This sauce stores wonderfully because of all the vinegar in it. Keep it refrigerated in an air tight container.

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