The Spanish generally don’t like chillis; the only dish we see them in is gambas pil-pil (prawns in olive oil, garlic and chilli, often served in small terracotta dishes – cazuelas). Spicy hot dishes rarely feature on menus which is a surprise seeing as Spain has been influenced for centuries by those who have arrived here: the Arabs brought cinnamon, mint, saffron and cumin while the discoveries in the New World opened the way for tomatoes and, of course, peppers. The dried, ground flesh becomes paprika which can be dulce (sweet) or picante (hot).
There’s a great spice stall in Órgiva’s weekly market where dried chillis can be bought, and a tiny shop in a backstreet sometimes sells fresh ones.
Earlier in the year we planted various types in our huerta – mostly from seeds from the local seed-bank, including Antilla Caribbean and Amigo Diablo. The latter is very hot, akin to pouring caustic soda into your mouth if eaten raw.
This was our first attempt at making chilli sauce and, in particular, a desire to mimic Sriracha sauce. Originating from Thailand, there are many brands, but it’s the version produced by Huy Fong Foods that’s become the famous brand, so loved in the US. It is possible to get it in Spain, if you look hard enough. But why buy it if you can make three (as it turned out here) bottles for less than 1€ in total?
Our sauce turned out to be a cross between Tabasco and Sriracha, a bit runny but delicious: hot, sour, garlicky, salty and slightly sweet. It doesn’t have any additives or stuff to make it gooey – but enough garlic to keep the vampires at bay. Thai people like putting this type of sauce on eggs.
Here’s how we made the sauce:
- A colander and a half of freshly-picked red chillis (washed)
- 20 cloves of garlic
- half a mug of light, brown sugar
- tablespoon of salt
- 50ml of white wine (or apple) vinegar
- 300 ml of water
Method (see photos below):
- chop chillis into small bits
- put into electric blender – add garlic, sugar, salt and water (not vinegar)
- whizz for several minutes
- pour into bowl, cover with clingfilm
- place bowl in a cool, dark place for 3 days, stirring once a day
- strain the mush through a fine sieve
- put in saucepan, add vinegar and bring to a gentle simmer for 2 minutes
- cool slightly and bottle
© con jamón spain