Archive for November, 2013

A warm obsession

November 5, 2013

I have, for reasons that elude me, become slightly obsessed with hot sauces lately. I like hot sauces; I like hot foods. I have also, as it happens, run out of all the various chili sauces I bought on various visits to Mexico.

It finally only occurred to me a couple of weeks ago, after seeing piles of habenero, serrano, and jalapeno chilies at the farmers’ market, I could actually make these sauces myself. I am a cook, after all. I think I just answered my own question.

So far, after several experiments, I’ve come up with two recipes I like a lot. One features serrano chilies and the second, jalapenos with brightly flavored mint and cilantro.  Each recipe makes about 1 pint.

Serrano hot sauce

20 Serrano chilies, chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 heaping tsp toasted ground cumin
1 heaping tsp smoked paprika
2” length of dried orange peel
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
½ cup rice vinegar

-Saute onions in oil with salt over medium heat until translucent
-Add chilies, garlic, and tomatoes and cook for about five minutes
-Add cumin, paprika, and orange peel and cook for about three minutes more
-Now, add water and increase the heat until it begins to boil. Reduce the heat back to medium, and let the vegetables simmer away until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring from time to time
-When the water has largely evaporated, add the vinegar and let simmer for a few minutes more
-Pour the mixture into a blender and whirr it for about 30 seconds until smooth. Now, strain the puree through a wire mesh and transfer the results to a sterile pint jar. It’ll keep in the refrigerator for a few months
-If you’re going to keep it around for a while, process the sealed jar in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes

Green hot sauce

5 medium jalapeños, chopped (and deveined and seeded, depending upon your tastes)*
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 bunch mint, stems removed
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
2 cups water, plus about a quarter-cup more
½ cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil

– Saute the onions and garlic in the oil, with the salt, in a non-reactive pot until the onions are translucent.
– Add the jalapeños and the quarter-cup of water, allowing to come to a boil. Let simmer for a few minutes.
– Now, add the two cups of water along with the chopped herbs. Stir them up so that the herbs and onions and jalapeños are nicely mixed together and bring the liquid to a boil again. Turn the heat down a bit to a gentle boil and let the mixture cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
– Add the rice vinegar and turn the heat to low, allowing all the ingredients to simmer together for three or four minutes.
– Now, pour the contents of the pot into a blender and run on high for 30 seconds.
– Strain the sauce through a wire mesh to remove seeds and fibrous bits, into a sterilized pint jar, and seal.
– This will keep for a few months in the refrigerator or, if you don’t plan to use it for a while, process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes, to keep it for several months. 

*Note: jalapeños, at least for chili aficionados, aren’t particularly hot but it’s worth tasting them beforehand to see how hot they actually are before committing to a certain number. More important, most of the heat in a chili is found in the white membrane that lines the interior, and then in the seeds. Remove some or all of that, and you tone down the heat substantially. But this is hot sauce so, why would you do that?