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Sometimes we lose inspiration in the kitchen and need a little something to kick things up a notch. Well, we give you chili sauce! It’s a tangy, tart, sweet and spicy way to bring out the best flavors of any dish.
Our meats come out a little dry no matter how good our marinades are. Thankfully, we’ve got chili sauce to add some moisture and flavor to all of our favorite foods.
Today we are breaking down the condiment that is chili sauce. There’s a lot of nuance to chili sauce, and we think it’s worth going through it with a fine-toothed comb. We’re here to give you all the information you need about chili sauce and how you can use it in everyday dishes.
So how exactly do we define chili sauce? Chili sauce is a condiment made from an acidic base mixed with other spices, herbs, and hot chile peppers. The sauce has a wide range of flavors in contrast to the more forward spice and vinegar notes of traditional hot sauces.
Chili sauces can range from a mild heat with a sweet forward flavor to garlic sweetness spice amplified times two by the hot peppers used to make the sauce.
On top of this, chili sauce offers some great health benefits. It is used in smaller amounts than other oils or condiments, so the benefits of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium aren’t as high as other pepper-based sauces and dishes.
However, you can still get a decent amount of capsaicin, which promotes cell health, increases your metabolism, and lowers your appetite.
Chili peppers get their start in 7,000 B.C. Aztecs were said to cultivate peppers and thus created our first experiences of chili sauces. In Asian cuisine, however, some of the most popular chili sauces were created in the 1980s, when sriracha and sambal oelek came onto the market.
The creator, David Tran, named his chili sauce after the Thai city of Si Racha. It’s been a long and winding road of creative new chili sauces from other companies.
There are plenty of styles of chili sauces on the market. Just like people have different styles, everyone has a different palette. One may like a more vinegar-forward chili sauce, while another would prefer a sweeter or smoky sauce.
New recipes are constantly evolving and adding new and innovative spices and herbs.
There are plenty of ingredients that go into chili sauce. If you’re going to try your hand at your own chili sauce blend, you’ll need to have them all on hand.
When it comes to the peppers, you want to make sure you use your favorites, but stick to the red chili varieties. In fact, you’ll also want to add other ground spices in the red family. We’re talking about paprika, cayenne, chili powder, and red pepper chili flakes.
As far as the peppers go, utilize different peppers to adjust for spice level. Thai chili peppers tend to have a ton of heat, so try something tamer like an Arbol chili pepper for mild heat. But don’t be afraid to add a ghost pepper if you prefer extra heat in your hot chili sauce.
We recommend trying Ning Chi Taiwan's Hottest Chili Sauce for a truly spicy experience.
Chili garlic sauce is very popular. The spice level won’t be as straightforward, but the sweet bite of garlic complements the spice from peppers well.
In addition to the garlic, you may want to add other ingredients with a warm bite. This would include ginger, cinnamon, clove, or even allspice. You can also opt for fresh garlic that will have more of a full flavor. But garlic powder will work fine if that’s what you have on hand.
This group is vast as it can mean anything at the base of the sauce that liquifies the other ingredients. Many Western chili sauces employ tomato paste, sauce, or puree as the acidic base for the sauce.
Typically in Asian chili sauces, you’ll find lemon juice or tabasco. You can also use Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or even ketchup. It doesn’t technically count as a sauce, but you’ll want to use a cornstarch slurry to make your own chili sauce. This will thicken the sauce and ensure it has the perfect consistency to stand up to dishes.
Soy sauce is another great addition to chili sauce. The salty components mixed with the intense umami flavors will amplify the heat of peppers wonderfully. It’ll be a robust sauce, so use gingerly.
KPOP Korean chili sauce is an excellent example that takes any dish to the next level.
Even if you aren’t in the market for a sweet chili sauce, sugar is necessary. There is a lot of acid in the vinegar, citrus, and tomato products that go into the base of the chili sauce, so it’s vital to balance that flavor.
Brown sugar works for a lot of hotter sauces. For lighter, smoky sauces, refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup will work well for those sweet chili sauces we can’t live without.
We recommend checking out Pantai sweet chili sauce if you’re looking for the perfect sweet-heat flavor.
Add all of the ingredients together in a saucepan and simmer on low heat for about six minutes. At this point, you’ll want to take it off the heat, let it cool, and blend.
Once it’s cool enough to consume, taste your creation. Adjust the sugar, salt, or acidity as needed if the flavors are a little skewed. From prep time to a ready-to-use chili sauce, the total time spent should be about thirty minutes.
We have some great pairings listed next if you’re wondering where to start your chili sauce adventure! These are just a starting point, so don’t be afraid to get creative.
Spicy noodles are a vegetarian favorite. This noodle style usually calls for a chili sauce with a lot of spice, so don’t be afraid to amp it up for dinnertime. Adding freshly sliced green onions or scallions to the top is traditional and brightens up the heat beautifully.
Stir-fry dishes bring a lot of rich, hearty flavors to the table, and if you’re going Thai-style, you need to pack in the heat. Chili sauce with a strong backbone on the peppers will leave that heat lingering long after your meal is done.
Anything that gets dipping sauce is ok in our book. Dumplings are the perfect carriers for all the flavor profiles of chili sauce. Meat-based dumplings will work well with the garlic flavors in chili sauce, whereas vegetable fillings will soak up all the heat of spicier sauces.
Egg rolls are perfect for spicy and sweet sauces. They’re deep-fried so that a sweeter chili sauce will cut through the fattiness of the fried egg roll. The heat will be amplified by the fried exterior. Be warned that the deep-fried flavor and oil will make the heat even hotter.
We know that you have everything you need here to go out and concoct your perfect chili sauce recipe at home. But before you do that, we recommend trying at least a few traditional chili sauces to have a good foundation of flavors. If you’re stuck on which to choose, don’t fret.
Check out our favorite collection of chili sauces right here at Umamicart! Each sauce is unique and will give you background knowledge on some of our most popular spicy, tingly, fiery, tangy, and garlicky chili sauces.
So what are you waiting for? Visit Umamicart today!
Who Invented Hot Sauce? A History In Brief | PepperScale
Capsaicin may have important potential for promoting vascular and metabolic health | PMC
5 Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper | Cleveland Clinic
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