Of all the products I'm producing at the restaurant, the one I think I am most excited about is the Louisiana style hot sauce. After a few test batches I got an idea of the exact mix of peppers I wanted to use to make a really great flagship pepper sauce at the restaurant. It uses mostly the very light tasting but somewhat hot local Nepali chilies (what their actual name is I have no idea, everyone just calls them chili, as if there is no other) and then add some chipotle peppers to give the flavor a little more depth and reduce the taste of vinegar on the front of the sauce.
Nepal's New Premier Pepper Sauce
I've learned how to make a lot of things from base elements this year, and pepper sauces are something I have always really enjoyed but never made myself. The one tough thing with tinkering with them is that they take some time to age and get just right, so you don't know the results of making some changes until a few months has passed and you can taste the sauce itself. To get around this a little, I made a few smaller batches using different combinations of peppers, spices, cooking and storage techniques. After trying those I was able to identify what I thought worked best, make a single sauce out of it and see how that was. After getting what I thought was a great sauce I've gone ahead and started to set aside batches that are at this rate about a month apart. Today I thought I'd go over what is involved in making a pepper sauce, this batch below will be ready just after the new year.
First Thing- Lots of Chilies
So we start with a lot of chilies. Not all dried chilies are created equal, so you need to try and find the better ones; large, whole, not too old and full of a bright red color.I only use a handful of chipotle peppers so those are painless to stem and prep. The Nepali peppers however require a good amount of work. I usually start with one Kg of dried peppers, and all of those peppers need to be stemmed and at least lightly seeded. That is probably the most time consuming part of the work.
Stemming Lots of Chilies
Cutting all those stems off is essential though as the stem would add a horribly bitter taste, and you really don't want it blended up in your pepper sauce. This is also a good time to separate whatever might be mixed in with your chilies, be it grass, or leaves, parts of the plant, the occasional pebble or whatever. Which brings me to the next point, you do not throw these chilies directly into the pot, they get put in another bucket so that they can get a bath prior to getting cooked.
Chilies Getting Washed
Dried chilies are often dusty, and have been in who knows what conditions so it's best to give them a thorough wash before adding them to the cooking pot. This is also a great opportunity to separate out many of the seeds, which will only get in the way later when you need to strain the mixture. I fill up the bucket, let many of the seeds float to the top and skim them off. I then pick the chilies out a handful at a time and expose them directly to running water, again to get rid of more of the seeds and make sure they are clean.
Chilies in the Vinegar Solution
Once they are clean I add the chilies to a pot that has already been filled with a solution of vinegar, salt, and other spices. Now we get to start cooking. The mix gets brought to a boil, and the simmers allowing the chilies to soften and for the vinegar to soak in the chilies. The chilies get stirred into the mixture to make sure that as many as possible stay submerged and get thoroughly cooked.
Processing the Mix
Once the mix has been cooked and given a little time to cool it's time to throw it into the food processor and turn it into something like a paste. One advantage with the processor over the blender is that the seeds remain whole and do not get turned into part of the paste, allowing them to be strained out at a later date. Due to the quantity that I'm producing I had to process about three separate batches. To make sure that everything is uniform you have to combine all the processed contents back into another container.
Now we are getting closer to the final product. Pictured above is the chili mash, a mix of the skin and paste as well as the few seeds that managed to make it through to this point. This stuff gets bottled and stored away in a cool dark place for roughly 12 weeks.
Don't Open Till After New Year
As the mash ages the vinegar taste becomes more subdued and the chili flavor really comes out. The resulting sauce becomes a bit thicker and the flavor a little deeper. While it's not bad just as it is when made like this, it really becomes a lot better with at least 8 weeks time to sit. Once the mash is aged for the appropriate period of time it comes back out and the sauce is separated from the remaining bits of skin and seeds leaving you with just the pure pepper sauce. In the past I've just thrown out the resulting skin, seed left over, but I'm going to attempt to dry out the stuff from the next batch and see if it can't be used as a kind of crushed red pepper, as it is essentially the same thing, although I'm not sure how all that time sitting in vinegar will affect the flavor. With the seeds and skin out of the way you are left with a velvety smooth sauce with tons of flavor and a good amount of heat.
Brian's Red Hot Nepali Pepper Sauce!
The first commercially available batch will be coming out on November 15th.