Hungry Bear and I were snowboarding in Whistler the last five days. We had a great time on the slopes and relaxed in a very posh hotel with a ski concierge service... talk about being pampered! But after five days of eating ski resort food, Hungry Bear had a major craving for rice and I needed something spicy. I was definitely going through chili pepper withdrawal, especially from my homemade Vietnamese chili garlic sauce (tuong ot toi).
I grew up using Huy Fong's Rooster sauces — Sriracha chili sauce in pho and other soups, and tuong ot toi in just about everything else. Over the years, as my heat tolerance grew, I began eating fresh chili peppers and trying out other hot sauces. But I've never found a really good hot sauce. Most were too vinegary, too smokey or generally overpowering. All I wanted was heat to enhance my meal and not interfere with the flavors of the dish.
These days I just have a fresh chili pepper or some homemade chili garlic sauce with my food. My parents started making their own tuong ot toi around ten years ago. They wanted something hotter and fresher than the Rooster sauce. The end result was an habanero chili garlic sauce that is a blast of pure heat with a wonderful floral aroma. The sauce is not cooked and is a simple puree of chili peppers, garlic, salt, sugar and vinegar.
I am completely addicted to the sauce and can't imagine going back to the Rooster chili garlic sauce. The homemade sauce contains no preservatives and can be adjusted to taste — from chili selection to sugar, salt and vinegar balance. Depending on the pepper you choose, the sauce can vary from relatively mild to scorching hot. Either way, the chili garlic sauce will be a fresh and spicy complement to any dish.
Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce Recipe (Tuong Ot Toi)
SND Note: The choice of chili peppers is up to you and your heat tolerance. To reduce the heat of the sauce, add more sugar and vinegar. Alternatively, you can add bell peppers to reduce the spiciness.
1 pound fresh chilies (Habanero, Thai, Serrano, jalapeno, etc.), washed and stemmed
6-8 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1) Roughly chop chilies if using large peppers. Place chilies, garlic, vinegar, salt and sugar in a food processor or blender and pulse until coarsely pureed. Adjust sugar, salt and vinegar to taste. Transfer to a small sealable jar and refrigerate.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups and will last several months in the fridge
Several months ago, I shared this chili garlic sauce recipe with Andrea Nguyen of Viet World Kitchen. She made a variation of my parent's recipe along with a cooked version by another one of her readers. And here's another adaptation of tuong ot toi from Holy Basil.
[tags]vietnamese, chili garlic sauce, chili, sauce, spicy, easy, tuong ot toi, garlic[/tags]