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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fermented Chili Sauces

Fermented Chili

1gal.                 Ripe chili peppers (Fresno, Serrano, Cayenne, Tabasco, Thai bird) mashed
½ cup               Kosher salt (not iodized table salt)
1 cup                White wine vinegar (Pinot Grigio)

This recipe makes the basic fermented chili mash that is used as a base for the following chili sauces.

Pepper to salt ratio is 32:1 (1.5 Tsp salt for every cup of mash)
Wash peppers
Remove stems but leave the ‘crown’
Cut peppers into chunks and then purée in a food processor
Add salt and mix thoroughly in a crock (Water can be added to keep all mash submerged, but this will result in a thinner sauce.) 
Leave crock uncovered for a day to gather bacteria
Cover crock with cheese cloth or towel
Ferment for 12 weeks (Fermentation time can be anywhere from 1 week up to 6 months.  Longer fermentation will make sauce more pungent)
Skim off mold at the end of the fermentation period
Add enough vinegar to mash to lower pH to less than 4.6.  I use white wine vinegar for the base acidity level.
Mix mash
Cover crock with cheese cloth or towel
Let mash blend with vinegar for another two weeks
Skim mold
Run mash through a food mill or blend and then run through food mill-depending on final use.
Save seeds and skins from food mill to make chili powder

Hot Chili Sauces - Basics

In all chili sauce recipes, the consistency of the final product is regulated by adjusting the amount of vinegar added and method of processing.  I use cane or palm vinegar for setting the acidity level and then fine tune with rice wine vinegar.  Rice vinegar is not as acidic or harsh as the other types.  The mash can be left as is for Sambals or the Chili-Garlic sauce.  The whole seeds and minced garlic and ginger pieces produce the traditional chunky texture desired.  The mash can also be puréed in a blender for smother sauces.  The purée is left as is, or run through a food mill for thinner sauces.  Thin, Tabasco-style hot sauces are pressed through a sieve.  Jaggery, an unrefined cane or palm sugar, is preferred for its mellow flavor. 

Sambal Oelek

2 cups              Fermented chili mash
½ cup               Cane or palm vinegar
2 heads            Garlic-crushed or minced
2”                     Ginger-fresh minced
4 Tbls               Fish sauce
3oz.                  Jaggery-shaved
2oz.                  Lemon grass- white part only-minced and ground in a mortar and pestle
1 Tbls               Lime zest
To taste            Salt

For a really chunky Sambal use the chili mash as is.  For a smother sauce, purée some or all the mash before mixing with other ingredients.  Mix all ingredients, except lime zest and salt.  Place mixture in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add lime zest.  Saltiness is mostly controlled with fish sauce.  If the sauce is too ‘fishy’ for your taste, but still needs salt, you can add kosher salt to taste.

Pineapple-Garlic Chili Hot Sauce

3 cups              Fermented chili mash
¾ cup               Pineapple- puréed with juice
½ cup               Cane or palm vinegar
½ cup               Rice wine vinegar
1 Tbls               Marjoram-ground
1 Tsp               Mexican oregano-ground
1 Tsp               Cumin-ground
¼ Tsp              Clove-ground
¼ Tsp              Cinnamon-ground
1 Tsp               Black pepper-ground
1-2 heads         Garlic-pureed
¼ - ½               Brown or White onion- puréed
To taste            Salt

Use a spice grinder to grind all spices into a very fine powder.  Purée garlic, onion and pineapple in a blender.  Add chili mash and purée.  Add vinegar to adjust for taste and consistency.  Salt to taste.

Chili-Garlic Sauce

3 cups              Fermented chili mash
½ cup               Cane or palm vinegar
¼ cup               Rice wine vinegar
1-2 heads         Garlic-minced
To taste            Salt

Mix chili mash and garlic.  Add cane/palm vinegar for desired acidity and consistency.  Use rice wine, if needed, to adjust consistency.  Salt to taste.

Sriracha  (Tuong Ot Sriracha)

3 cups              Fermented chili mash
½ - ¾ cup        Cane or palm vinegar
3-4oz.              Jaggery-shaved
1-2 heads         Garlic-puréed
To taste            Salt

Purée garlic and chili mash in a blender.  Purée the garlic with a little vinegar first to ensure it is processed into a smooth paste before adding the chili mash.  Add vinegar to set acidity and consistency.  Mix in jaggery to taste.  Salt to taste.  Sauce can be used raw or cooked.  For cooked: Place in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer to reduce. 

Chili Powder

2 cups              Chili mash remnants (seeds and skins) after processing through food mill

If using a dehydrator, spread mash over screen and dehydrate until all moisture is removed.
If using the oven, spread mash in a thin layer over a ¼ sheet pan. Dehydrate in low oven (150° - 180°), stirring occasionally to dry evenly
When the chili is completely dried use a fork or mortar and pestle to break up chunks
Place dried chili on a sheet pan and smoke in a BBQ or smoker for 1-2 hours.  Time in smoker depends on level of smokiness desired.  Use hickory or mesquite, depending on taste.
Grind chili in a spice grinder and store in an air tight container.

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