Sweet and Fiery Chile Sauce

Chile Pepper Sauce 1

It may be just a coincidence, but none of Burmese dishes I’ve tried have set off any multiple-alarm fires in my mouth.   And that’s just fine by me.

Because even though I love me some heat, I also appreciate letting folks tailor their plates to their individual heat tolerance or preference.  It’s just plain awkward for everybody when guests are breaking a major sweat at your dinner table and you have to replenish their water glass after every bite.   The win-win solution?  Hot chile sauce on the side.

Dried Chile Peppers

Dried Chile Peppers 1

I love my Sriracha as much as the next girl, but I’m all for making my own homemade hot sauce, especially when it’s this easy.  Red chile peppers are simmered with water and garlic and the processed with some fish sauce, sugar and rice vinegar until it hits that magic sweet spot between smooth and chunky.

And because you’re seeding the chiles yourself, you have control over the heat of the final product.   I removed most of the seeds, leaving just those that clung to the membrane after giving the peppers a little shake, which resulted in some pretty potent stuff.  If you prefer a sauce that’s a little lower on the Scoville scale, make sure to remove just about all of the seeds.



Sweet and Fiery Chile Sauce

Although the mixture will initially seem a bit water, the sauce will thicken slightly in the fridge.

Yield: approximately 2 cups

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


* 1 cup packed dried red chile peppers
* 3/4 cup water
* 1/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic
* 1/4 cup fish sauce
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 3/4 cup rice vinegar


Slice of the stems of the chile peppers. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise and remove most, if not all of the seeds. Discard the seeds or save for another use.

Combine the chile peppers, water and garlic in a small saucepan and let sit for 5 minutes. Set over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes.

Let the mixture cool slightly and then transfer to the jar of a blender or food processor. Add the fish sauce and sugar and process, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary, until the chile peppers have been broken down into very small pieces. Add the vinegar and pulse a couple times to combine. Transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate.

Adapted from Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid

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6 Responses to “Sweet and Fiery Chile Sauce”

  1. #
    Barbara — April 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    I really enjoy your blog- not just for the interesting recipes, and great photography but because of your writing ability!! The phrase ” that magic sweet spot between smooth and chunky” completely won me over today!


    • Cate — April 4th, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

      Thanks Barbara! Although I wish I could say I was trying to be clever… I just couldn’t figure out what word captured the texture I was thinking of. Not sure if it doesn’t actually exist or whether I’ve just been drawing a blank :)


  2. #
    Lauren — April 5, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Cate!

    I’m going to give this a go but I was wonder how long you think it will last in the fridge? I suspect quite a long time no?



    • Cate — April 5th, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

      The recipe I adapted it from said it would keep in the fridge for 2 weeks… but I think it’ll probably last quite a bit longer than that due to the amount of vinegar. Hope you like it!


  3. #
    Rebecca — April 20, 2013 at 11:02 am

    What do you serve this with/on?


    • Cate — April 20th, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

      Hi Rebecca- I’ve been using it on just abut everything… scrambled eggs, tofu salad, Asian noodles soups, etc. Pretty much anything you would put Sriracha on to add a bit of heat.


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