Jun 13, 2014

Some Like It HOT!!!

As far as I am concerned, hot sauces have to taste good and add flavor to whatever you put it on, not just be hot. Some people however just can't get their food hot enough. I think that the most flavorful hot sauces will be the most enduring. 
Dried Hawaiian Chili Peppers 
from Piihonua Springs, 
on the Big Island of Hawaii
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Hot sauces are popular around the world, and Hawaii is no exception. Vegetable gardens in Hawaii have been growing little red and yellow peppers for a local condiment called Hawaiian chili pepper water. You'll find it in farmers markets, in grocery stores, and the peppers can be purchased dried online, click here, so you can make your own Hawaiian chili pepper water (see recipe below). These little peppers, 1 inch in length, will blow your head off if eaten alone, so instead it is tempered with garlic, ginger, vinegar, water, and salt to make Hawaii's version of Tabasco sauce.

The difference between one hot sauce and another has to do with ingredients, and culture. The Asian and Spanish communities in Hawaii love their food spicy. Here are a few spicy sauces that I keep in my kitchen not only to add a little heat, but also flavor:

Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water
Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water
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Chili pepper water is splashed around like soy sauce and ketchup here in the islands. It's used on plate lunches, entrees, vegetables, salads, everything but dessert.

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh red Hawaiian chili peppers, stems removed and halved
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 quarter-sized slices fresh ginger, bruised
1 garlic clove, peeled and cut into thin strips (or you can leave it whole)
1 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 cups hot water (not boiling)

Procedure:
Combine the ingredients in a clean and sterilized pint bottle or jar. Pour in about 2 cups of hot water and let the mixture steep at room temperature overnight, then refrigerate. It keeps indefinitely. Makes 1 pint.

Spicy Hot Chili-Garlic Sauce
A little bit of this homemade Vietnamese condiment will go a long way unless you like your food really hot. This sauce is used in a variety of ways, from stir-fry, stews, soup, and even as a dipping sauce if you can handle the heat.

Ingredients:
6 ounces hot chiles (e.g., cayenne, Fresnos, habanero, jalapeno, long, serrano, Thai, or a combination of them), stemmed and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Procedure:
Put all the ingredients in an electric mini-chopper or food processor. Process to a coarse texture. Take a whiff and it should make you sweat a bit. Taste and adjust the flavor with add extra salt or sugar. Transfer to a small saucepan, bring to a vigorous simmer over medium heat, lower the heat to gently simmer for about 5 minutes, or until it no longer smells raw. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. Makes a scant 2/3 cup.

Thai Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

3/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lime
3 dried red chili peppers (or you can use fresh ones)
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in chunks
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Thai red chili paste
1 tablespoon honey
a dash Thai fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt

Procedure:
Mix the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and set aside.
Put all the rest of the ingredients in a small food processor or blender and blend until pureed. Transfer to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Let simmer for 4 minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture (slurry), stir and let simmer for another minute. The sauce will thicken and turn glossy. Let cool completely before storing in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 cup.

Chili Black Bean Sauce
Ingredients:
8 ounces fresh red bird's eye chillis, stemmed and finely minced
1/3 cup fermented black beans, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine (Pagoda brand)
2 teaspoons dark rice vinegar (Marukan brand)
1 tablespoon sugar

Procedure:
Cook the chillis and black beans in the oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the rice wine and vinegar and simmer for another 3 minutes. Stir in the sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool before transferring to a storage container. The sauce can stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Makes about a cup.

Chili Oil
Ingredients:
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/3 cup dried red chili flakes

Procedure:
Heat the canola oil and sesame oil in a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pot until your instant-read oil thermometer registers between 225°F and 250°F. Stir in the chili flakes (they should be foaming a little). Remove the pot from the heat and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight for the chili flavors to infuse.

Strain the oil through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the red pepper flakes. Store the chili oil in a clean bottle. The oil will keep for a few months if you store it in a cool, dark spot. Makes 1 cup.

Roasted Garlic Chipotle Salsa
Ingredients:
4 firm-ripe tomatoes (8 oz. each), rinsed
2 unpeeled white onions (6 oz. each), cut in half horizontally
20 unpeeled garlic cloves
10 canned chipotles, stemmed and seeded
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup lime juice
salt

Procedure:
Cover bottom of a 10- to 12-inch grill pan or heavy frying pan with foil and set over high heat. When hot, set tomatoes, onions, and garlic on foil. Turn occasionally until browned in spots all over, 5 to 6 minutes for garlic, 9 to 12 minutes for onions and tomatoes; remove each as done. Let cool. 

Stem chiles; slit open and remove seeds. Wearing rubber gloves, break or cut chiles into small pieces; drop into a blender. Core tomatoes and cut into chunks; add to blender. Peel onions and garlic; coarsely chop and add to blender. Whirl mixture until smooth, pushing it down into blades as needed.

Pour olive oil into a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat; when hot, add tomato mixture and stir often until it simmers rapidly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add lime juice and stir occasionally until salsa is fairly thick, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add salt to taste. Makes about 4 cups.

Simple Spicy Mexican Salsa
Simple Spicy Mexican Salsa
(Recipe below)
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This simple and delicious salsa is partially made with Ro-tel, a delicious canned product that is available at Molokai's Friendly Market, end of isle, across from the fresh eggs. They also carry everything else in this recipe. Don't forget the corn chips!

Ingredients:
1- 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1- 10 ounce can Ro-tel original diced tomatoes & green chilies
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded or not (depends on how spicy you like it)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
small to medium size handful of fresh cilantro, washed
juice of 1 lime

Procedure:
Put all the ingredients in the base of a food processor and pulse to combine for 30 seconds or so until all the ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. Serve with corn chips or over tacos. Makes about 3 cups.
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