Thursday, June 20, 2013

Raw Fermented Sriracha - Thai Chili Sauce

Did you know that eating capsaicin-containing foods like chili sauce releases endorphins? That means it makes you happy! More specifically, chilli peppers have been implicated as possibly relieving pain, suppressing appetite (thus aiding weight loss), and aiding the prevention of prostate cancer.

I wrote before about making a quick cooked Sriracha-style sauce. It is tasty, but lacks the probiotic benefits and complex flavor of a naturally fermented chili sauce. Though this fermented condiment can ripen for over two weeks, the actual man-hours is less than or equal to that of the "quick" cooked sauce that can be prepared in a day or two.

Bottled sriracha (pickles in background)
I'm a little obsessed with this sauce. I open it up just to smell it and bask in it's beauty. My sriracha is intensely red. It has a deep warm flavor without the eye-watering sharpness of its raw ingredients. The taste is complex, arriving in waves of fruity heat with a sense of savory indulgence.

First I'll tell you how I make it, then I'll tell you how I use it.

All amounts are approximate. When fermenting you just get a feel for how much of each ingredient to use and you watch it, smell it, and taste it as it ripens.

  • 1 pound or 1/2 kilo hot chili peppers (whatever you like or can get your hands on)
  • 1/2-1 head of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • Olive oil

  1. Put on gloves.
  2. Wash the chilies and snip off the green top. You may remove some or all of the seeds. I remove any that fall out easily when I roll the chili between my hands, but I no longer take the time to slit each one open and remove all the seeds and white membrane.
  3. Grate or finely chop the chilies and garlic and mix with salt.
  4. Pack into an appropriately sized glass jar. 
  5. If you have a bowl that will fit in the jar and cover most of the surface area, put it in now and tap or jiggle it to remove any trapped air bubbles.
  6. Poor a thin layer of olive oil over the mixture to cover any exposed surface area.
  7. The fermentation will take around two weeks, longer in cold temperatures. You will need to smell and taste it to see when it's to your liking. The mixture will lose its sharpness and get a slightly vinegary warm fruity smell.
  8. During the fermentation time, you will need to monitor it for mold and take precautions to avoid mold. How do you do this? A) Use your hand or the back of a spoon to gently press the mixture to remove air bubbles. B) Occasionally mix everything to keep molds for colonizing. C) Remove any molds or yeast (white film) that forms, along with whatever it is touching. D) Add additional olive oil if necessary to keep the everything submerged.
  9. When the mixture is ripe, you have a few choices:
  • Blend until the mixture is smooth and move to small jars. I think this really brings out the color and homogenizes the oil. (This is my preference.)
  • Leave it chunky.
  • Blend it and force it through a mesh strainer to remove seeds and make it extra smooth. (The last time I did this it was a waste of time and gave me a very watery sauce.)
One third of my annual garlic supply

Want to know what I've done with it (besides inhaling deeply and smiling)?

  • Spread a tiny spoonful on a sandwich or quesadilla.
  • Mix it with chopped fresh tomatoes and fresh parsley or cilantro for a super fresh salsa.
  • Dip oven fries or roasted cauliflower in it.
  • Add it to chicken salad.
  • Make a spicy, creamy tahini dip for raw veggies.
  • Add it to a far of pickles to make chili pickles.
  • Use it as a starter for other ferments.

Two recipes using sriracha:

Instant "Live Matbucha" (middle eastern salsa) 
Mix the following and leave it out for 8-20 hours to further ferment. (Or enjoy immediately!)
  • 1 package/can of organic crushed tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp quality olive oil
  • Herbs and spices such as basil, cilantro, coriander, and oregano
  • 1-3 Tablespoons sriracha (to taste)
  • (Optional) a pinch of sugar to "wake up" the beneficial microorganisms
"Taco Salad"
I discovered this idea while living in Pittsburgh. It makes an excellent and fun meal. (Though I haven't actually made it in years.) It's also a great way to use up broken chips and other odds and ends. Please feel free to deviate from this list of ingredients:

Dressing: Mix mayonnaise (or sour cream, plain yogurt, or mayo substitute) with sriracha to taste.
Add a little water, apple cider vinegar, or olive oil if necessary and to taste.

  • Chopped romaine lettuce
  • Cooked or canned black beans (or whatever beans you have)
  • Canned Corn
  • Shredded cheese (preferably cheddar)
  • Black olives
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Whatever else you like in your taco
  • Top with broken tortilla chips or taco shells.

1 comment:

  1. I've started making a mayo-sriracha mix for my veggie burgers, beef burgers and schnitzel... SO yummy!



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