Tucked up next to the house is a motley collection of Rubbermaid containers filled with dirt and bushes of chilies. Big green Jalapenos, long thin Kung Pows, bright red Tabascos and tiny yet volcanically-hot Thai Bird’s Beak chilies. The cat avoids this part of the garden, as do the deer. In fact, I’ll bet even the bee’s start sweating with all the capsicum in the air.
With each bush producing over thirty chilies this summer, you’d think we’d be giving them away… But no, we always seem to consume exactly the number of peppers that ripen by the weekend. We’re addicts. All of us: Crystal, Lisa, Chiara (especially Chiara!) and me, hapless spice addicts. It’s the reason we stockpile such an obscene amount of edible chemical weapons.
So when we’re not adding slivered chillies to noodle bowls, or folding them into morning omelets we’re jarring them in fish sauce for later use. I first adopted this ridiculously-simple technique for preserving (and enhancing!) chillies after reading Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Southeast Asian travelogue/cookbook entitled Hot Sour Salty Sweet.
This sauce is on every table in Thailand, and accompanies most of the meals we eat here at home. It’s just chillies and fish sauce, in a little jar. I add a little hit of rice vinegar once in a while to give it some kick, but yeah… That’s it.
The only tricky bit is not rubbing your face after chopping the chilies. If your worried about that, or you’ve got sensitive skin, wear gloves. The Bird’s Beak chillies can be especially deadly!
Thai Chilie Sauce (makes 1 large Mason jar full)
- ½ cup Small, Hot Chilie Peppers (sliced)
- ¾ cup (175ml) Thai Fish Sauce
- 2 oz. (60ml) Rice Vinegar
- Carefully pack the chilies (seeds ‘an all) into a glass container (I prefer a large, squat Mason jar) making sure to avoid rubbing your eyes with your chilie-fingers. No, I don’t care how much they itch… Trust me, wait until you’ve washed your hands a couple times.
- Mix the fish sauce and vinegar together and pour into the jar with the chilies. You want the liquid to just cover the peppers. If you need a bit more liquid just add more fish sauce to top it up, not the vinegar.
- Seal the jar and refrigerate for a couple days before using. The longer the chilies sit in the fish sauce and vinegar, the softer, milder and more complex their flavour gets. You can keep ‘em in there for months!
Music To Pickle Peppers To:
Weekend Players – Pursuit of Happiness