Sunday, June 26, 2011

2 Homemade Srirachas -- One Fresh, and One Fermented

Three 10 oz bottles of Sriracha

I know I promised these recipes a few months ago, but I have an excuse -- I wanted to post pictures of the fermented Sriracha, actually, well, fermenting, and it refused. Now that is weird, because, normally you put out organic liquid or wet material with sugars in it (covered) at room temperature, and within a week or so, it starts to bubble. PDQ. Sigh. Not this time. Makes you wonder how they get that coleslaw at the deli to go off so quick ... Anyway, I've got some photos now.

So, here are pictures of the Sriracha mash in a mixing bowl, with its plastic wrap cover removed, bubbling away. You can see the little bubble craters on the surface of the mash.

Fermenting Sriracha Mash

Cool, huh?

The only thing left to do is bottle it and adjust the flavor. What's that?? What do I mean, adjust the flavor?? Well, after the fermentation process, the relative sweet/salty/sour/hot balance may have changed, and it is perfectly legitimate to add rice wine vinegar, salt or sugar in small amounts until the flavor pleases you. Go ahead. Or ... if the Sriracha doesn't need it, don't.

So what is the basic recipe, you ask? I will give you the following list and amounts which are by no means written in stone, and you can begin your own fermentation experiment.

Fresh and Fermented Farang Sriracha
  • 2 to 3 lbs ripe, red Fresno peppers, or other full flavored ripe, hot pepper, stems removed
  • 1 to 2 pints peeled garlic cloves
  • 4 to 8 TBS fine sea salt
  • 10 to 16 oz, or to taste, rice wine vinegar
  • 1 to 2 cups, to taste white or light brown sugar, about 1/2 to 1 cup for the fresh recipe; I like the brown
  • 1 or 2 large peeled and rough-chopped sweet onions, optional -- not traditional, but good
Note that I am not using ripe jalapeno peppers as Huy Fong does, since the essential bitterness of the jalapeno, though diminished by ripening, remains even when nice and red. The Fresno pepper is a nice compromise. Other possibilities are the cherry pepper, a mixture of red peppers, including some jalapeno.

Chop it all up in a food processor or a powerful blender or a food mill, until the consistency is that of the Huy Fong Sriracha you may be familiar with or for that matter, Heinz Ketchup. If it's a little looser and wetter than that, it's OK.

Once it's all chopped up, you are nearly done for the fresh version of the Sriracha, but just beginning a 3 month or so journey for the fermented version.

For the fresh version, just bottle it in mason jars or in a carafe and let it sit in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days so the flavors can meld, and use it as you like.

For the fermented version, keep it in a container of some kind that you can cover and observe for 5 to 6 days in a cool dry place, under 60 degrees F. Even if it still hasn't begun to ferment by that time, remove it to the refrigerator for 3 or 4 weeks or even longer until the telltale bubble of fermentation begin to pock the surface of the Sriracha, and let the bubbling run its course, which may take a several weeks or a month or more. At that point you can taste and adjust the flavor. I leave mine in the fridge after that point until I am sure fermentation is absolutely done, up to 3 or 4 months.

You may also find that after a couple of months of sitting in the fridge, the sauce has separated into 2 layers, a clear liquid on top, and an opaque layer underneath. I keep the clear layer on hand as a fermentation starter for new batches of Sriracha, but I pour it off the actual Sriracha I intend to bottle.

As much as I like the HF Sriracha, and I do, I prefer the fresher, less sweet, less bitter, less salty and more complex flavor of this Sriracha, and I like it on everything from scrambled eggs to chicken sandwiches. And there are times I prefer the fresh, non-fermented Sriracha, too.

By the way, for those of you interested in the fermentation process, which radically enhances and intensifies the flavor of the Sriracha, and other fresh hot sauces for that matter, check out Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, by Sandor Ellix Katz, which will hook you up with everything from kimchi to kombucha.

Bon appetit!

Yours in Heat and Flavor,


Photo credits: me

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