We've made all kinds of different hot sauces each year from our homegrown peppers, but this year I really wanted to try making Sriracha sauce, or Rooster sauce; the garlicky, spicy-sweet Thai chili sauce that we all love to put on our Asian dishes. After researching different methods, I decided to go with the recipe from this video, which features chef Jet Tila from Los Angeles. My batch turned out perfectly; it tastes and smells just like the stuff you buy from the store (maybe even better). So I thought I'd share the method here with you.
The most important ingredient, of course, is fresh chilies. I waited until I had the requisite amount ripe in my garden; you could just as easily go to your local farmers' market and buy someone out of their supply. You'll need quite a few of them, more red than green. I used a mix of jalapeños, Maule's Red Hot, Calabrese Piccante, and Thai peppers. Here is the recipe:
By the way, I bought the xanthan gum on Amazon for not much money, and got a ton of it. It's a natural thickening agent, which most folks use for gluten-free baking. I can't imagine I'm going to use much of it, so if you are near me and decide to proceed with this project, let me know and I'll share some.
This is what it looks like after you've got the first six ingredients mixed up. You let this sit on your counter for a week, and as you can see, you need to cover it lightly with cheesecloth or a dishtowel, to allow for gas exchange. On the third day, you begin to stir it once a day (I used a chopstick). You'll start to smell the odor of fermentation pretty much right away, and the fumes from the chilies can also be quite strong.
After a week, you'll blend the mixture.
Here comes the most difficult part of the process: You'll need to push this mixture through a sieve, to strain out the seeds and large pepper solids. This takes a while. Keep at it. You want as much of the good stuff as possible. In retrospect, I think it would go easier using a food mill.
I fed those seeds and chunky bits to my chickens and they loved 'em!
Then, rinse out your blender, and put the strained mixture back in. Add the vinegar and blend. Then add the xanthan gum and blend. You'll see it immediately thicken up. Then decant into a jar and put in the fridge!
Or, do as I did, and put it into decorative bottles to give as gifts.
These jars are maybe 6-8 ounces? So the recipe doesn't make a huge amount, but far more than any family will eat in a year, I would imagine (unless you are a Sriracha addict).
A note on storage. I talked at length with a preserving expert and we wrestled this one out. We both think there is enough acid in this that you could water-bath can the mixture with no safety issues. However, canning it would change the color and also kill all the good fermentation bacteria you've got going on in there (though the vinegar kills some of it, too). Fermented foods are often kept in cellars for quite a long time without any problem; since I don't have a cellar here, I'll keep these in the fridge until I'm ready to give them away. Over time, the sauce should develop even more flavor and nutrition.