Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce

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

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

Related Recipes

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]

12 Comments on “Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce (Tuong Ot Toi)”

  1. JEP said:

    I find your photos just amazing & often wish I had them plastered all over the walls of my apt.! Your recipe is simple & would be appreciated if received as a house “warming” gift!

  2. I really love the bright orange color of the habaneros. I ate some recently at a Mexican restaurant and they were spiiiiicy!

  3. Ellen said:

    yum and spicy!

  4. Jessica said:

    I love spicy food, so this would be a great thing to make! I really like the picture of the chili garlic sauce, its a very nice orange color.

  5. Christine said:

    I liked the kick I got from using cayenne. I think I’m too chicken for the all-habanero version. I wonder if I cook it for a bit, the heat might be muted?

  6. Rosalina said:

    yes, the pictures just scream spicy, and I love it.. Hey, I’m thinking for preparing an asian food shopping list , any one any ideas what to include ? please drop me a note.

  7. Ellen said:

    Don’t forget to buy some rice bran oil-the smoke point is 490, higher than peanut oil. Rice oil offers many health benefits as well.

  8. Kiera said:

    So here I sit. Reading your fantastic story of the most beautiful spicy sauce I’ve seen, and the only reason I’ve even searched out this site is because I was looking for a recipe to use my first-time purchase of Huy Fong’s chili Garlic Sauce!

    Anyway… I have no idea what to do with this stuff and am desparate to try it, but afraid I’ll burn my mouth off!!

    I have pork, chicken and beef in the fridge/freezer, so the possibilities are (nearly) endless!

    Help! How much do I use?? What does it taste BEST on?? I am completely ignorant of Vietnamese cuisine and very interested… wanna give me my first lesson?

    Thanks for anything you can offer!

  9. Cynthia said:

    I’m a chili big fan. I can’t eat without any chili. Be it chili sauce, or my favorite bird’s eye chili. It’s so good to find this on your site, by looking at it, I can feel my saliva is going to flow out of my mouth now. It absolutely is a must try.

  10. Chase said:

    I love chili sauce, and this one is good. I added some fish sauce, about 2 tbsp and it really tasted great.

  11. argus said:

    I made this sauce with really long cayenne peppers and apple cider vinegar and it turned out lovely fuity and with just enough spicy hotness. I’m putting it in everything, from soups to potatoes. This will become a major staple in my pantry


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