This chilli sauce recipe is deceptively simple. However, the results are nothing short of addictive. It’s a condiment that adds just the right amount of heat, along with a mild, fruity sweetness. The perfect way to dress up, or fire up, any meal!
In our family, no meal is complete without a hot sauce (or two) on the table. We all enjoy the heat of chillis in one form or fashion and rarely agree on which sauce is best. The men in the family prefer sriracha, while the ladies seem to drift toward a bit more variety — depending on the cuisine, heat, or flavour profile we’re after.
However, I think I’ve just discovered a formula we can all agree on. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been slowly working my way through Andrea Nguyen’s fabulous Pho Cookbook. If you are a Vietnamese food fan, I highly recommend all of Andrea Nguyen’s books. They’re thorough, easy to understand, and — so far — her recipes have been 100% foolproof.
This chilli sauce recipe is no exception. Granted, I had to change the formula a bit, because we don’t get Fresno chiles in Johannesburg. But, the thing I love about Andrea Nguyen’s recipes is that they’re written with such clear instructions and explanations that I feel confident experimenting a little bit.
In the Pho Cookbook, Andrea Nguyen explains that this recipe was inspired by a hot sauce she tasted in Vietnam. She felt the flavour profile was the perfect accompaniment for a bowl of pho. So, she recreated the sauce from scratch when she got home to California. If the original is anything like her copycat version, I completely understand her passion to recreate it! This sauce is my new favourite chilli sauce, and it’s delicious with lots of other things besides pho.
You could swirl a bit of the sauce into homemade mayonnaise to make a fantastic dip for fritters or frikkadels. It’s also perfect for burgers, or for your morning eggs. In short, this is the sauce I’m using every time I crave a bit of heat.
About the Recipe
As mentioned above, I changed Andrea Nguyen’s recipe slightly because of the unavailability of Fresno chillis in South Africa. Unfortunately, I have never tasted a Fresno chilli.
However, I did a bit of homework on the subject. As far as I can tell, Fresnos are milder than the serenade chillis we get here in South Africa, with a taste that must be similar to jalapeños. To keep the flavour profile similar to Andrea Nguyen’s original, without amping up the heat too much, I’ve recommended a combination of serenades and jalapeños with membranes and seeds removed.
As you prepare and taste this sauce, bear in mind that it is not intended to be a replacement for super spicy sauces like sriracha. Rather, it is a mild — yet still feisty — pepper sauce which complements food rather than overpowering it with heat. However, if you like (or want) a bit more heat, you can always add a few of the membranes and seeds back into the mix.
I hope your family enjoys this delicious chilli sauce as much as mine does. Bon appétit!
Feisty Homemade Chilli Sauce
This exquisite chilli sauce is adapted from a recipe in Andrea Nguyen's recently published Pho Cookbook. It is a simple and addictive condiment which goes well with pho, burgers, morning eggs, and just about everything else.
- 1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 medium roma tomato, roughly chopped
- 120 g serenade chillis (about 7), seeded and roughly chopped
- 60 g jalapeño chillis (about 2), seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar, preferably organic
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- Step 1 Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and allow to cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the peppers have softened.
- Step 2 Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Step 3 Add cooled ingredients to a blender jug and puree for about 2 minutes or until as smooth as possible.
- Step 4 Pass the puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove any solids and arrive at a thick, but pourable consistency.
- Step 5 Set aside to cool thoroughly.
- Step 6 Once the sauce has cooled, you can taste and tweak the balance — if necessary — by adding salt, sugar, vinegar and water in small increments, as needed.
- This recipe yields about a cup of finished sauce.
- It can also be made with 100% jalapeño peppers or Fresno chillis for a milder result.