I really love hot sauce. A few years ago I started making my own hot sauce from recipes I made up myself. I looked at a few sample recipes but mainly just experimented with the basic ingredients that make up hot sauce, which are really just:
- Chiles (dry or fresh)
Anything else you add brings extra flavor, which could be things like fresh garlic or onions, spices or even nuts or seeds.
I keep a notebook of recipes that I started numbering from #1. I would make up a new batch, number it, and then bring it to work for my co-workers to try. Some batches were great, while others were just ok. A few were really bad. A few of my closest co-workers got really hooked on the hot sauce and used to ask for more by batch number. One of the most common requests I got was for batch #19, which is based on fresh orange habaneros, onion, and carrots. It’s hot but really good.
After I moved to NYC in 2010 I stopped making hot sauce for a while since my kitchen was a bit smaller and I didn’t have good ventilation (which is critical!) I recently decided to make up a batch of an old favorite recipe, #27. That recipe previously involved cooking fresh orange habaneros on the barbecue until they were blackened. Since I don’t have any outdoor space or a bbq now, I used a cast iron skillet to get some color on the habaneros. I also couldn’t find orange habaneros in the fall so used green ones. They didn’t seem nearly as hot as the orange ones but still packed a lot more heat than a jalapeno. The final sauce was still really tasty!!!
Here is the rough recipe:
- About 30 orange or green habaneros (washed, whole)
- One sweet onion (peeled and cut in half)
- Four garlic cloves (peeled)
- One tablespoon of salt (to taste)
Put habaneros into a cast iron skillet or on the barbecue until they start getting blackened a bit. Add the onion and garlic and cook until habaneros are soft and well charred. Onion should be soft. Garlic will still be firm but have a bit of charring. Remove stem and core from habaneros by pulling the stem with your fingers while holding the habanero with a fork or something besides your hands (since you want to keep skin contact to a minimum.) It should come out fairly easily. Don’t worry about leaving seeds or some of the core. Add habaneros, onion and garlic into a blender or food processor and add vinegar and water (50/50) until there is just enough for it to blend well. Blend until fairly smooth.
Dump the blender into a strainer and pass the mixture through to remove any remaining seeds and skin. Press this well with a spoon to make sure you get all the good stuff. Add vinegar and water until the remaining mixture is about the consistency of hot sauce. It will thicken a bit when it sits so it can be on the thin side.
Now comes the fun part. Add about a teaspoon of the salt and taste. It’s going to be hot. Keep adding salt until it tastes slightly salty. Keep some cold water or milk handy while you’re doing this. It’s going to be a lot hotter right now than it will be in a week so just hang in there. You might also need to add extra vinegar if you like it a little more sour. Once it tastes right, bottle it and keep it in the refrigerator. There should be enough salt and vinegar to keep anything from growing in it, even at room temperature, but it will likely last longer in the fridge.