Mango Habanero Hot Sauce
Almost everyone enjoys a good hot sauce, and some of us are hot sauce freaks and aficionados. There are so many fantastic hot sauces on the market today, with as many flavors and levels of heat to keep your palate interested for many years. It's also easy enough to make your own hot sauces: the foundational recipe of vinegar, hot peppers and salt offers a framework for a practically infinite combination and variety of ingredients. What kind of vinegar? What variety and combinations of peppers? Sea salt, smoked salt, pink salt, etc., etc.. A teaspoon of this or a cup of that? Let's add some sweetness with agave syrup, honey, fresh blueberries or pineapple. How about carrots, or tomato, or nasturtiums. The possibilities truly are endless.
That being said, I made a couple of fresh batches of hot sauce over the last week, one of which I'll share here. I'm going to give you the recipe for this hot sauce, with the perhaps irritating caveat that you probably won't be able to replicate it. Heck, I don't think I'll be able to replicate it even though I was quite specific in recording the ingredients and amounts. Some of the ingredients were what I'd call "one-offs". That is, they were unique ingredients that I just happened to have on hand and likely won't have again. For instance, I pickled some habanero peppers from my garden a few years ago, and I had one jar left on the shelf. I'll be darned if I remember what recipe I used at the time. I also had some hot pepper pulp in a jar in the fridge from a batch of hot sauce I made last week. That pulp came from a larger jar of shredded hot peppers I got from my friend Marty three years ago and that have been fermenting in the back of the refrigerator ever since. I have no idea what variety of pepper they were either; all I know is that they were hot and delicious.
Those two key ingredients are non-reproducible. But that doesn't really matter. You can still follow this recipe, using reasonable facsimiles, and still turn out a fabulous hot sauce.
What I like about this sauce is how the heat and the sweet so comfortably balance one another. It has a lovely, soft fruity and maple syrupy sweetness as it hits the tongue. A moment later the heat slides in and you get that nice habanero burn that fills your entire mouth and lingers for around a minute before it's gone. I love the surprise of that delayed heat sensation. It's not real hot; I'd say it falls somewhere in the middle (a 4 or 5) on a 1-10 heat scale. But you can certainly increase or decrease the heat by manipulating the quantities of peppers and/or honey and maple syrup. That's the beauty of making hot sauce: everything is adjustable, and your results will almost always be good (and if they're not as good as you had hoped, you can still go back in and add things to adjust it further).
1 ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
½ cup water
1 tbls mustard seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1 ½ cup small sweet yellow peppers, chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, smashed
2x2-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
½ cup honey
¼+ cup maple syrup
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
5-6 fresh serrano peppers, chopped
10-12 pickled habaneros with pickling juice
2 heaping tbls fermented hot pepper pulp
1 mango, peeled & seed core removed
½ tsp fish sauce
1 ½ tsp sea salt
1. Simmer first 13 ingredients (up to and including the fermented hot pepper pulp) in sauce pan for approximately 10 minutes. Allow to cool enough to be safe in a food processor.
2. You're going to use the food processor now, so figure out how many batches you'll need to divide the sauce in order to process it all. You don't want to do too much at one time. For my processor I did it in 3 batches. Peel and chunk up the mango and banana and divide that into the number of batches you're going to process (again, it was three for me). Add the appropriate amount of mango and banana to each batch and pulse until liquified. Return to sauce pan.
3. Add the fish sauce and salt. Mix in thoroughly.
4. Fill sterile bottles with the hot sauce and store in refrigerator. I save and re-use old hot sauce, kombucha and other similar bottles for this very purpose.
note: I like my sauce to have a little thickness and texture to it. If you're one who prefers a silky, Tabasco-like sauce you can strain out the little chunky bits (and you might want to save that pulp for another batch down the road).