I began experimenting with homemade Sriracha two summers ago after discovering Joshua Bousel's recipe on Serious Eats (http://www.seriouseats...). The first batch, while tasty in its own right, was bright and in-your-face hot, and missing the earthiness of the beloved Huy Fong version. I spent the rest of my summer on a quest for an earthier, more complex sauce. By fall, I’d found it.
The keys to this much improved homemade Sriracha were the following: A longer fermentation, achieved by increasing the amount of sugar. Using smoked sea salt in addition to regular kosher salt. Thickening with xanthan gum instead of reducing the sauce over heat. And the change that made the biggest difference: mixing in some green jalapeños and serranos. The milder green peppers mellowed out the up-front heat that was present in earlier versions, bringing balance to the sauce.
The result is a sauce that is a bit hotter than the Huy Fong version, but with all the earthy complexities that make it so darn tasty. And while this is a recipe, it should also be considered a framework. Feel free to experiment with different peppers. Adjust the type and amount of sugar. Try other vinegars. Let it become your obsession too.
Also, a few tips: Wear food-safe gloves when working with the hot pepper mash. Some sort of eye protection doesn’t hurt either. (I didn’t bother with this for a while, but then I had a rogue bit of hot pepper juice splash right into my eye this summer. So yeah, eye gear.) And covering your face with something when you’re washing the food processor bowl and fermentation jar is also a good idea, otherwise you’ll be breathing in hot pepper vapor. —Carey Nershi
- Makes about 2 cups
red jalapeños and serranos (even mix of each), stems removed
green jalapeños and serranos (even mix of each), stems removed
partially green/partially red jalapeños and serranos (even mix of each), stems removed
dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons
smoked sea salt
distilled white vinegar
- Place peppers, garlic, sugar, and salts in your food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a clean jar, then cover and let sit at room temperature. (I use a mason jar with the lid screwed on very loosely. You want to give your mixture a little breathing room, so don’t screw the top on too tight. Alternatively, you could forgo the jar/lid combo and just use a bowl and plastic wrap.) Store in a dark, dry place.
- Check the jar every day for fermentation. (This should begin after 2 to 3 days, but might take a little longer in colder, drier weather.) Once you begin to see some bubbly liquid-y magic at the bottom of the jar, fermentation has begun. Stir the mash each day, until it is no longer rising in volume from the fermentation. (This should take 5 to 7 days.)
- Transfer the mash to your food processor/blender, add the vinegar, and puree until very smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, stirring and mashing it through until all that remains are seeds and larger bits of peppers. Return the sauce to the clean bowl of your food processor or blender, and sprinkle xanthan gum over top. Pulse until the gum is incorporated and the sauce has thickened. Transfer to food-safe squeeze bottles or an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to six months.