That's correct. I ran out of sriracha. This is the Trader Joe's version, but I am also out of the Whole Foods (Squirrel something) version and the Rooster version (the most popular one), as well. One might expect that I would simply add it to my shopping list, but I am committing to using less and less plastic, and I thought, why not start here??
It's not like sriracha is an essential ingredients. Yeah, right. Of course, it is!
As it turns out, Sriracha is very similar to sambal oelek and garlic chili sauce. All three start with the same red jalapenos, salt and vinegar, but that is where the similarities end.
Sambal Oelek is just the chilis, salt and vinegar, ground, cooked and packaged.
Garlic Chili Sauce is sambal oelek with garlic added, ground, cooked and packaged.
Sriracha is garlic chili sauce that is fermented for about a week, strained and sweetened.
As you can see, sriracha is definitely the most difficult of the three, as far as "difficulty" goes - I mean, it is just a matter of setting the ground chilis aside to ferment and then cooking it. I can think of things far more difficult than that. Like making dinner.
The real question is the issue of the chilis.
I could not find red jalapeno chilis anywhere (maybe because Huy Fong Foods has monopolized them all!) which is what the green top brand uses exclusively, so I had to settle for Fresno peppers and green jalapenos. I cut off the stems but left the crown of the peppers because they add a fruity flavor (so I read).
Then I ground them all with salt, vinegar and garlic. The salt is crucial in fermentation such as this because it prevents unwanted bacteria from forming while allowing the good bacteria to flourish. This is true for all vegetable/(some fruit) fermentation.
Then I packed it in a jar, covered it tightly with a lid and let it do its work. I stirred it (more accurately shook the jar) every day and waited. Tough, I know. After all, I was out of sriracha by this point!
After 5 days the mixture actually smelled like sriracha! I was very excited!
You can see that the fermentation was working because there were bubbles everywhere, and that was before I shook the jar. Once I shook it this final time the bubbles were just popping up all over, very much like making rejuvelac.
At this point I added the whole thing to my blender, added the sugar and buzzed it until it was as smooth as I could get it.
Then it was just a matter of passing it through a fine (not very fine!) mesh strainer to remove any seeds or pepper skins and then cooking it until the desired consistency was achieved.
Now, admittedly there are a few things I will change when making it the next time:
1. I over fermented it, I think. A day less would have done it. This version turned out a bit too ripe.
2. I will change up the peppers next time. Fresno cost me $7 a pound and I used 1 pound of it, plus the green jalapenos. The cost was way too much. I'm going to try using red bell peppers with green jalapenos. It might be even better because the bell peppers are a bit sweeter.
3. I clearly didn't make enough. But when you are experimenting, you don't want to risk a bunch of wasted product.
Overall, I'm very happy to keep a few more bottles of plastic out of my life and this is so easy and simple to make that I don't hesitate calling this a win-win. For more information, I blog at Plastic Free Vegan.
Makes 1 1/4 cups
1 pound fresno peppers
1/2 pound green jalapenos
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
1. Cut the stems (but not the crowns) off the peppers and add them to a food processor. Add the garlic, vinegar and salt. Process until finely ground. Transfer to a 1/2-gallon glass mason (to make it easy to stir) and cover tightly with a lid. Place the jar aside, out of sunlight, for 3 to 5 days. Stir the chili mixture once a day and taste after three days. If it tastes fermented it is ready for the next step.
2. Add the chili mixture to a blender along with the sugar. Blend until very smooth. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer (not a very fine mesh) and pass all the mixture through as you possibly can. Don’t forget to scrape the underside of the strainer where pulp accumulates.
3. Add the strained mixture to a medium saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it is at the consistency that you like. I reduced mine to 1 1/4 cups. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and sugar. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
*Note: I will update this recipe as I continue to update the process.
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