Tương Ớt Tỏi – Vietnamese Chili-Garlic Sauce

  Many of you are probably familiar with the ubiquitous green-lidded bottle of chili-garlic sauce that is sold at most Asian grocery stores. With its trademark rooster image stamped on the front, it’s a common sight in many Vietnamese (and non-Vietnamese) homes. Our family always had a jar of this sitting in our refrigerator door, right next to the ketchup and mustard bottles.

   Combined with lime, sugar and fish sauce, it made for an easy nước chắm (Vietnanese dipping sauce) or a quick topping to stir-fried noodles and soups whenever fresh chilies were out. Up until recently, I had not considered making my own. The stuff in the bottle was not quite as good as fresh chilis but it was convenient and handy to have around.

   I came across a method for a raw version and a cooked version online and it seemed easy enough. Also, I had purchased a 3lb crate of fresh cayenne at the farmer’s market. Three pounds of cayenne . Well, it was a moment of weakness. They called to me with their red siren song. And so here I am, chopping up more chilies than any Sri Lankan mama!

   Just kidding. Anyway, with that ample supply, I decided to make both versions. It was actually pretty easy and quick to put together. Most of the work was cutting up the chilis and peeling the garlic. From there, adding the rest of the ingredients into the food processor took little time.

I’m very pleased with the results. They of course, have a fresh taste that is far better than the store-bought jar. Both sauces have a heady aroma and a heck of a kick to them. I thought that the cooked version would be slightly tamer but I find the chili flavor to be even sharper and the garlic a bit more pronounced in that one. The raw chili sauce, however, has an earthy quality and less of a sweet edge than the cooked sauce (it had less sugar added).

   I’m sure this is something I’ll be able to do from now on. So, adieu, little rooster!

VIETNAMESE CHILI-GARLIC SAUCE

adapted from Chuck of SundayNitedinner 

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