"A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift."

Laurie Colwin

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Aromatic Sweet Green Chili Sauce

It’s like this at this time of year:  go to church, come back home with a marrow [squash] big enough to club a mastodon to death with.

Zucchini are not only famously (or notoriously) fertile, but they are also incredibly fast growing, and what’s a tender young zucchini before you go to bed will be a green behemoth in the morning.  So if you plant zucchini, it’s a given that you will be giving many of them away.  Not that I’m complaining, because you’ll be giving at least one to me, which I’ll stuff or turn into a slice of something yummy on a Tarty Tuesday.

This Sunday, the obligatory box of summer garden produce included (along with the marrows) a bag full of the freshest green Cayenne chilies; so fresh they squeaked when they rubbed against each other.  I immediately - and before knowing what I’d do with them - took some generous handfuls home.  A few were used for pepping-up purposes here and there, but I finally decided that the rest would be used for a sauce along the lines of a sweet chilli sauce.  But as soon as all the ingredients came to the boil, I knew that I’d hit this one out of the ballpark.  It isn’t just a chili sauce:  it is an incredibly complex infusion of all your favourite Asian herbs and spices.  Like The Best Damned Sweet Chili Sauce You Ever Had, it is also a trice to make, and goes with too many things to mention, but the only thing I needed to eat it with the first time was a vehicle.  I chose garlic krupuk (which I always microwave, never fry), but honestly?  They were just so as not to admit to the indignity of wanting to eat it with a spoon.

You can use any long green chilies for this recipe, as long as you understand that you’ll then have to take responsibility for the heat of your sauce.  Green Cayenne chilies are very mild - mild enough to make a slightly peppy sauce that would appeal to children with sturdier palates - and the dried red chilli is entirely optional.  Or a starting point.  If this medium-spice sauce does not fit the bill of the asbestos-mouthed among you, feel free to add more. 


250g. long green chilies (green Cayenne), topped and roughly chopped (keep seeds in), roughly sliced
2 whole bunches coriander (including roots and stalks), roughly chopped
1 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
1 bulb garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1/4 cup (packed) Vietnamese mint
2 tbsp. chopped lemongrass
3 thick slices ginger
2 Kaffir lime leaves - fresh if you’ve got them (which I do - boast, boast)
1 tbsp. dried crushed red chili (opt.)
1 tsp. cumin seed
1 tsp. black mustard seed
2 tbsp. salt
3 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 3/4 cup sugar

What you do:
1.  Combine all ingredients except sugar in a saucepan, and bring to the boil.  Cook at a steady boil for 5 minutes.  Add sugar, stir to dissolve, and bring to the boil again.  Cook at a steady boil, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.
2.  Fish out Kaffir lime leaves and discard (oh, go on, lick them first).  Transfer remaining contents of saucepan to food processor and whizz for about a minute, until smooth and thick.  Pour into hot, sterilised bottles or jars, and seal.

Yumbo McGillicutty!


  1. Gorgeous! I just made this and it's got an amazing flavour, thanks for the recipe.

  2. Hey, Lisa! I am so glad! I have a tiny bit left here and am jealously guarding it.

  3. I'll put my sauce up against Mr Heinz's best any day!


So! Whaddya reckon?