If you like heat you’ll know how a little stash of hot sauces can make all the difference to your cooking. Not just there for the burn, a good hot sauce carries all of the fruity flavour of its chillies alongside a sharp streak of acidity, which might come from vinegar, citrus juice – or, in this case, fermentation.
Fermenting gives pepper sauces a funky depth which makes them just as useful to cook with as they are as a splash of condiment on your scrambled eggs. Try using a spoonful into the base of a stew as you would with tomato puree, or stirring through a pan of cooked chickpeas at the last minute, letting the heat wake up all the sauce’s flavours.
This recipe is really just an outline to get you started, the jumping-off point for a range of sauces. It’s easy to vary it to your own taste and needs, using green chillies for a more bitter, grassy heat, using a mix of sweet and hot peppers for a mild sauce, or – going in the other direction – adding in as much scotch bonnet or bird’s eye as you can take!
You can keep it as a chunky paste like harissa, make a completely smooth sauce by pushing the blitzed paste through a sieve, or anything in between. Just use the same brine ratio and keep an eye on your ferment (chillies and sweet peppers can be VERY lively) and you can’t really go wrong. As with all fermentation, the process will vary every time – so taste as you go, trust your own senses, and learn what you like.