Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce

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Christine W., Cook Smarter – Many of you are probably familiar with the ubiquitous green-lidded bottle of chili-garlic sauce that is sold at most Asian grocery stores. With its trademark rooster image stamped on the front, it’s a common sight in many Viet (and non-Viet) homes. Our family always had a jar of this sitting in our refrigerator door, right next to the ketchup and mustard bottles.

Combined with lime, sugar and fish sauce, it made for an easy nước chắm (Viet dipping sauce) or a quick topping to stir-fried noodles and soups whenever fresh chilies were out. Up until recently, I had not considered making my own. The stuff in the bottle was not quite as good as fresh chilis, but it was convenient and handy to have around.

I came across a method for a raw version and a cooked version on Andrea Nguyen’s blog and it seemed easy enough. Also, I had recently purchased a 3lb crate of fresh cayenne at the farmer’s market.

With that ample supply, I decided to make both versions. It was actually pretty easy and quick to put together. Most of the work was cutting up the chilis and peeling the garlic. From there, adding the rest of the ingredients into the food processor took little time.

I’m very pleased with the results. They, of course, have a fresh taste that is far better than the store-bought jar. Both sauces have a heady aroma and a heck of a kick to them. I thought that the cooked version would be slightly tamer, but I find the chili flavor to be even sharper and the garlic a bit more pronounced in that one. The raw chili sauce, however, has an earthy quality and less of a sweet edge than the cooked sauce (it had less sugar added).

adapted from VietWorldKitchen

Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
Raw version
  • 1½ lbs. red, hot chilis (cayenne, thai, serrano, jalapeño, etc.), roughly chopped with stems removed & discarded
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbl. sugar
  • 6 Tbl. white vinegar
Cooked version
  • 1½ lbs. red, hot chilis (cayenne, thai, serrano, jalapeño, etc.), roughly chopped with stems removed & discarded
  • 15 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbl. sugar
  • 6 Tbl. white vinegar
Instructions
Raw version
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thoroughly blended but still coarse in texture.
  2. Taste the sauce and add salt/sugar if needed.
  3. Transfer to an airtight jar and refrigerate.
Cooked version
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thoroughly blended but still coarse in texture.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a sauce pan on med. heat and bring to a rolling boil. Then, adjust the heat to low and simmer for approximately 5 minutes – or until the sauce loses its raw smell. Taste the sauce and add salt/sugar if needed.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  4. Transfer to an airtight jar and refrigerate.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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