Thai Chillis in profusion
The peppers ready for the pot.
The chillis we've harvested have been Cayenne, earlier on, and now, Habaneros, Thai bird's-eye, and Hungarian bananas. Each of them has their own wonderful attributes; I'm particularly fond of the Habaneros; they are fiery hot, but with a sweet tropical fruit base that makes them quite addictive.
Because the crop has been so prolific this year, I've been able to experiment a little with different sauces. Some have been a disaster; I made one sauce that combined chillis and tomatoes, but exploded out of the bottles despite rigorous sterilisation of the glass and the sauce. Some have been superb (even though I say it myself), my criteria being taste (of course) heat, and the propensity for the sauce to NOT create the classic "ring of fire" the next day. I've never been a fan of sauces with intimidating and "humourous" names and a reputation for indigestibility.
So, today I wanted to create a sauce with a bit of a twist; and it's sitting, stewing in it's own juices as I write this. Time will tell if it's a success, but I fear it won't be. I've tried to go for a more South-East Asian taste, using Belacan (dried shrimp paste), and Tamarind for sourness, but I also went all fusion mad, and infused the chillis in Gin, Mirin and cider vinegar. There's mustard seeds, for a different kind of heat, and anchovy paste (I really wanted to add Ikan Bilis, but couldn't find any- Kerikeri had a very short-lived Asian supermarket, now it's gone!) for a sambal sort of slant.
So, the starting ingredients may well have been wasted which is a shame, but I will let you know how it comes out. Even if it's a total disaster, I'll have had fun concocting it; it reminds me of my nerdy childhood with a chemistry set in the garage at home (do they still sell those?).
When I do get some dried anchovies, I think I'll stick to a well-tried sambal recipe.
So. The sauce tasted odd, but not irredeemable; it just lacked a certain something. Could it be sharpness? I added some lime juice and it was much more pleasant. So I bottled it. Look how much I made: