Sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, ground chili powder, raisins, red pepper flakes and salt – all that’s needed for basic Sweet Hot Chili Sauce

We’ve been making a version of the Southeast Asian Sweet Hot Chili Sauce for years. I like home-made condiments because they are multidimensional and so much better than anything you can buy from the store. The original recipe comes from Jennifer Brennan’s Encyclopedia of Chinese & Oriental Cookery. She was my go to source for Asian cooking when we first moved to Alaska. She understood that back in the 1980’s we didn’t have an Asian Grocery around the corner and she gave substitutions for some of the hardest to find ingredients. In some ways, it makes her book outdated but in others it shows how important experimentation can be. Just because you don’t have an ingredient doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make something. Just experiment!

As usual, I’ve adjusted the recipe. Primarily, I’ve cut down on the sugar and that will probably amaze you as this recipe is pretty sugar intensive. It’s part of what adds to the body of the cooked sauce.

The simplest way to peel ginger is with a spoon! Just rub the edge of the spoon against the ginger and the thin skin will come right off.

Sweet Hot Chili Sauce

1/2 cup ground red chili powder (cayenne pepper, New Mexico pepper, etc. but not Chili Powder made with a combo of spices)
2 cups of white sugar (brown sugar imparts a different flavor but is good for a change)
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups golden raisins (regular raisins are fine, they just change the look of the sauce)
12 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and finely grated
3 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes

And here is the easy part! Put all of this in a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the raisins are soft.

Turn off heat and let the mixture cool. Place in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Before cooking.

After cooking.

Cooled and ready for the food processor.

Place in jars or bottles of your choice. If you plan on storing this for a while, place in sterilized jars and process as you would canned goods. Otherwise, just keep the chili sauce in the refrigerator. We use ours pretty quickly, within a few weeks, so I just store mine in the refrigerator.

The finished product!