Made From Scratch: My Mother's Chinese Chilli Sauce

recipe

Chinese Chilli Sauce

Before I met Mr NQN I had a boyfriend that I had been seeing for several years. I really liked his parents and he mine so when we parted ways and I met Mr NQN and my parents met him, they took a little bit of time to get warm up to him. I think they may have regarded his casual nature a little dismissively. You see he comes from the Mid North Coast of NSW from hippy parents and he is just that little more laid back than people that they are used to.

Mr NQN looks are what my mother calls "rugged" with his casual nature and approach to vanity. He is totally fine with that description. He looks like a younger version of his father, albeit a neater one. His father used to dress ...interestingly. He was once at the beach sorting through his backpack when a well meaning stranger handed him $10 and walked off before he could correct him that he wasn't homeless!

Chinese Chilli Sauce

It's one of Mr NQN's favourite stories to tell about his somewhat disheveled dad. But Mr NQN had his own moment like that recently. We were in an ice cream shop on a sweltering summer's day. I was busy ordering when he, Viggo and Nick went to sit down. Mr NQN lay down on a couch and before we knew it, a staff member looked over, saw him with his eyes closed and strode over. "This isn't a hotel you know!" he said to Mr NQN. Shocked, he explained that I was buying ice cream and they apologised for jumping to conclusions. "We have a problem with street people," the manager said by way of explanation.

Chinese Chilli Sauce

Anyway, my parents now adore him. He is their go to person to do things over me because he is much more patient and easy going. And even though he is Finnish/Australian they say with some pride that he is Northern Chinese at heart because he loves to eat dumplings so much. I can cook him a 600g bag of dumplings and he will finish them within 10 minutes ending with a contented pat of his stomach. And do you know what goes best with dumplings? My mother's chilli sauce!

I know chilli sauce is inexpensive but making your own and knowing what goes into it has got to be better than what you can buy (and given the scare with imported frozen berries lately, timely too). I love the intense flavour and balance of my mother's chilli sauce. In fact we go through jars of it very quickly. Did you know that eating hot chillies can produce a rush of endorphins? Your body reacts to the heat of the capsaicin in chillies releasing your body's own painkillers aka endorphins. It's why eating it can be addictive (or perhaps in this case, it is the flavour of the chilli sauce).

Chinese Chilli Sauce

Chillies are in season at the moment as they grow in full sunlight and this sauce is a great gift to give to someone although you may just want to keep it for yourself. It's also almost Chinese New Year (February 19th!) so if you are having a special dinner, serving this delicious sauce may take your dumplings and dishes to another level!

So tell me Dear Reader, what are your favourite types of dumplings? What do you eat them with (soy, chilli sauce, black vinegar or plain?). And what cuisine do you have an affinity with? For me, it's Japanese!

Chinese Chilli Sauce

My Mother's Chilli Sauce

An Original Recipe by My Mother

Makes 4-6 small jars

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 5-10 minutes

  • 1kg/2.2lbs. large red chillies (small Thai chillies will be too hot for this sauce)
  • 16 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 inch cube of shrimp paste
  • 10-12 tablespoons brown sugar (to taste)
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt

Chinese Chilli Sauce

Step 1 - Wear latex gloves (trust me, I even wore two pairs just in case!). Wash and slice the chillies in half lengthways. Remove the seeds and the tops from the chillies (this is where you may want to team up with someone because there are a lot of chillies!). Roughly chop the deseeded chillies.

Chinese Chilli Sauce

Chinese Chilli Sauce

Step 2 - Place the chillies in the food processor along with the garlic. Blend until you get a fine paste. It may take a while - it took just over 5 minutes in the food processor that we used.

Chinese Chilli Sauce

Chinese Chilli Sauce

Step 3 - Heat the oil in a wok and place on medium high. The smell of chilli goes everywhere and it can be pungent so it's best to open the windows as it affects some people more than others. Fry the shrimp paste, pressing down and making sure that it cooks down and caramelises. Add the brown sugar, salt, chilli and garlic paste and fry for 5 minutes. Place in sterilised jars.

Chinese Chilli Sauce