It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
I began experimenting with homemade Sriracha two summers ago after discovering Joshua Bousel's recipe on Serious Eats. The first batch -- while tasty in its own right -- was bright and in-your-face hot, but missing the earthiness of the beloved Huy Fong version. I spent the rest of my summer on a quest for a more complex sauce. By fall, I’d found it.
The keys to this much-improved homemade Sriracha were a longer fermentation and the addition of smoked sea salt and xanthan gum. The change that made the biggest difference, however, was mixing in some green jalapeños and serranos. The milder green peppers mellowed out the up-front heat present in earlier versions, bringing balance to the sauce. The result is a sauce that is a bit hotter than the Huy Fong version, but with all the earthy complexities that make it so darn tasty.
While this is a recipe, it should also be considered a framework. Feel free to experiment with different peppers, adjust the type and amount of sugar, and try other vinegars. Let it become your obsession too.
Also, a few tips: wear food-safe gloves when working with the hot pepper mash (some sort of eye protection doesn’t hurt either) and cover your face when you’re washing the food processor bowl and the fermentation jar (otherwise you’ll be breathing in hot pepper vapor).
Makes about 2 cups
2/3 pound red jalapeños and serranos (even mix), stems removed
1/3 pound green jalapeños and serranos (even mix), stems removed
1/2 pound partially green/partially red jalapeños and serranos (even mix), stems removed
6 cloves garlic
8 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons smoked sea salt
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
Place the peppers, garlic, sugar, and salts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Transfer mixture to a clean jar, then cover and let sit at room temperature.
I use a mason jar with the lid screwed on very loosely. You want to give your mixture a little breathing room, so don’t screw the top on too tight. Alternatively, you could forgo the jar/lid combo and just use a bowl and plastic wrap. Store in a dark, dry place.
Check the jar every day for fermentation. This should begin after 2 to 3 days, but it might take a little longer in colder, drier weather. Once you begin to see some bubbly, liquid-y magic at the bottom of the jar, fermentation has begun.
Stir the mash each day, until it is no longer rising in volume from the fermentation. This should take 5 to 7 days.
Transfer the mash to your food processor or blender, add the vinegar, and purée until very smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, stirring and mashing it through until all that remains are seeds and larger bits of peppers. Return the sauce to the clean bowl of your food processor or blender and sprinkle xanthan gum over top. Pulse until the gum is incorporated and the sauce has thickened.
Transfer to food-safe squeeze bottles or an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to six months.
Photos by Carey Nershi