Everyone has a favourite condiment. If you asked me a few years ago, I would have said either mayonnaise or BBQ sauce, they went on almost everything! When my CTO and I moved to Singapore in early 2011, we found that every restaurant, food court and kopitiam served every meal with either ketchup or chilli sauce. Being so used to Aussie tomato sauce, it took awhile for us to develop a taste for ketchup so we gravitated towards the chilli sauce. And it wasn’t normally sweet chilli sauce either, it was the hot stuff!
It took a few months of conditioning (and heartburn on my behalf), but we soon got used to the heat levels of the local sauces and started to put it on everything. After a year, the chilli sauce at Burger King and KFC was considered too tame whilst the sauce at McDonalds was downright ghastly, and the sauce that came with the Hainanese chicken rice at the local hawker markets was still extremely hot and spicy but oh-so-deliciously garlicky. I miss that sauce, ¼ of a teaspoon was all that was needed for the whole plate. I will try to recreate it one day! Our chilli immunities have gone from me finding a mild Indian or Thai curry too spicy, to needing a medium hot. My CTO eats the hottest sauce (Extra Extra Hot) at Nando’s without breaking a sweat, and I eat the Hot. Only because the spicier ones have no flavour, in my opinion.
When we moved back to Australia last July, chilli sauce in all strengths went into the shopping basket. We still eat a little bit of the hotter sauces, but sweet chilli sauce is the most versatile and the most loved in our household. Since July, we have bought and consumed at least 3-4Lt of sweet chilli sauce. That’s a lot of sauce!
After looking at our household consumption of sweet chilli sauce, I decided to hunt down a recipe to make my own. I found this recipe on Adeline & Lumiere, and it’s fantastic. Easy to make, minimal ingredients, and aside from the chillies, all pantry staples. Cost wise, it’s about the same as store-bought Thai sweet chilli sauce, but this way you know exactly what’s in it. I even kept my old chilli sauce bottles and poured the homemade sauce straight in and popped it in the fridge. I decided not to do proper canning procedure, as I know that this batch will only last our family 2-3 weeks, but I did give the bottles a good thorough wash in hot soapy water and made sure they were hot when the sauce went in.
As I said before, this is such a versatile sauce. I cook with it, I marinade with it, I use it as a sauce and I make a sweet chilli dip that I’m going to post on here soon. I hope you all love it as much as we do.
Sweet Chilli Sauce
Yields: approximately 900mL
- 500g long red chillies (e.g. bullhorn)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 750mL white vinegar
- 645g caster sugar
Halve 100g of the chillies and place in the bowl of a food processor. Halve and deseed the remaining chillies. Coarsely chop and place in the food processor. Add garlic and 250ml white vinegar. Process until finely chopped.
Place the chilli mixture, remaining vinegar and caster sugar in a large saucepan over a low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.
Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 35-40 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Pour into sterilised airtight bottles and seal.
Adapted from Adeline & Lumiere