Sichuan Hot Sauce
This is a hot sauce that would make a great accompaniment for any Sichuan-inspired recipes that you might have in the back of your mind--or as the star of any dishes that need a little bit of "pop". Some leftover spaghetti noodles in your refrigerator? Boring steamed broccoli in need of revival? Maybe a Cornish Game Hen ready to be dressed and seasoned to perfection? Sichuan Hot Sauce is your answer!
For our recipe, we rehydrated 10-12 Dried Red New Mexico Chiles and a handful of Thai Bird Chiles, to create a flavorful, deeply pepper-y, mild base that's lightened up with the stinging heat of the hot Thai Birds. Then we blitzed both peppers in a blender with a little water to create a chile paste. We added aromatic garlic, ginger, and onion to this paste; we sweated them in some oil first, which helps the aromatics release their flavors and round out some of the sharpness and pungency. This allows the ingredients to work together in delicious harmony. They only need to sweat for a few minutes over a gentle, medium heat, and you want these ingredients to stay golden brown and not burn.
Don't be afraid to taste your sauce throughout the cooking process so you can balance it to your taste. This gives you the chance to understand how the flavors develop together, and head off kitchen mistakes before they become difficult to correct. If, for example, the heat of the chiles is a concern for you (New Mexico chiles are mild, but Thai Bird chiles are hot), you can counteract some of that heat with a little more of your Demerara Sugar.
- Place both kinds of chiles in a bowl. Pour enough hot water to cover chiles, cover with lid or plastic wrap and let soak 15 minutes.
- With a food processor, or a mortar and pestle mash the ginger and garlic to a paste. Set aside.
- Drain chiles and remove stems and seeds. Place chiles in blender or food processor with 1/4 cup water and make a paste.
- In a saucepan, heat sesame or vegetable oil to medium and add ginger and garlic paste. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add onion and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the chile paste and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, Sichuan pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Adjust sugar and soy sauce if necessary.