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Your favorite Asian hot sauces recipes

I want to give some homemade hot sauces as a Christmas gift to a friend of mine who cooks a lot of Chinese and Thai food. He has both sambal and sirracha. Are there any sauces you concoct on your own? I have access to a lot of Asian markets.

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      1. re: paulj

        My two favorite Asian condiments are:

        Hot Chili Oil / Sesame Oil

        Scallion and Ginger Oil....or some type of fresh pepper added to enhance the flavor and heat. It could be Jalapeno, Long Hots or Chili Peppers. If I'm lazy, then I'll add powders or red pepper flakes.

      2. I enjoy Fuchsia Dunlop's simple fiery sauce - just chopped hot peppers mixed with salt and packed into a glass jar. Lasts a long time in the fridge and is good in many applications.

        1. I'm just curious.

          What's the difference between an Asian hot sauce and, say, an American hot sauce? Or a Mexican one?

          Serious question. Not meant to be snarky at all.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Good question, Mexican or Latin American sauces are specific to habenero, jalpeno or another chile that is found there. A lot of manufacturers use lime juice and other vegetable or fruits to enhance the chile. Asian hot sauces are not specific to the chile per se, they are usually a combination of chili and garlic and other Asian ingredients such as black beans or fish sauce. My experience is very limited as I am happy with Sambal, it's cheap, versatile and lasts a long time if I get a big jar. I also like the Chipotle Tabasco sauce, again it is readily available, affordable and incredibly versatile. I used to buy the cans of peppers but like the Chipotle tabasco as I have more control over the heat. My friend OTOH likes trying new things and loves to add to his ever growing hot sauce collection.

            1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

              IMO, tabasco's contains much more vinegar than Asian hot sauces, which usually have a balance of hot-salty-(sometimes sweet)-sour.

              You can make sambal bajak: To the sambal, add fermented shrimp paste (belachan) and process togetherl Fry this in low heat, then add galangal (optional), sugar, chopped tomatoes Let it simmer until the tomatoes blended well. Keeps for a long time in the fridge. Use it as vegie dip, or smother it on fish/seafood or fried tofu. I even use it on steaks and everything else. Growing up in Southeast Asia, sambal is like ketchup to Americans.

          2. Sambal basically means "sauce"

            There are lots of different types of them.

            A trip to a well-stocked Asian market will have loads of different kinds as well as other Asian sauces.

            1 Reply
            1. re: C. Hamster

              With due respect, a slight correction;) Sambal means basically chili sauce (ground fresh chili) which you can add a variety of flavorings, mainly shrimp paste (blachan) and lime juice. You can also add garlic, chopped onion and tomatoes, if you so wish. The basic sambal is the foundation in making sauce for sambal ikan (fish), udang(shrimp), daging (meat) etc. etc., or simply add kecap manis (sweetend soy sauce) for simple panfried or steamed fish or chicken.... Hope this helps.

              From Indonesian Lady

            2. I like the picture cookbooks by Hermes House. One for Singapore and Malaysia has 10 recipes in the condiments section. One that I've made is a pineapple pickle. It's diced pineapple seasoned with a paste made from chillies (their spelling), mustard seeds, giner, garlic, turmeric, vinegar and (palm) sugar. This is more like a fresh Mexican salsa, than a sauce that can be bottled and kept in the fridge for weeks.

              1. I haven't tried this yet but it's on my list of things to make. How about an Asian version of hot sauce with habanero (or scotch bonnet) peppers? May be a vinegar based sauce with lots of garlic and ginger? Haven't seen anything like this in the store. Most habanero sauces I've seen are either Mexican or Caribbean style.

                1. It isn't a homemade sauce, but you might give your friend a jar of Lao Gan Ma hot sauce for his collection. Not the plain chili oil, this one is called Spicy Chili Crisp, and it's a hot/savory/sweet combination that's unique in texture among hot sauces (in my experience, anyway) and one of my favorite Asian condiments. It contains prickly ash sugar, a sap reduction like maple sugar, only made from the sap of the prickly ash tree which gives us Szechuan peppercorns.This lends the sauce a very unusual crystalline crunch. It can be a bit difficult to find on the grocery shelves because the front label has very little English to differentiate it from the more common chili oil or black bean chili sauce except a line of fine print at the very bottom, but it's well worth searching out. Here's a link to a 2010 post someone wrote about it that included a picture.


                  1. One of my favorite Chinese Malaysian-Singaporean dipping sauces is the kind served with Hainan chicken-rice. It is a handful of fresh red chiles, 1 clove of garlic, a couple tbs of chicken broth, salt, sugar (about double the salt's worth), and tiny dash of vinegar. It's really spicy and delicious, and I feel the chicken broth gives this boost to the flavor that makes this extra special. This may also be a type of sambal.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: luckyfatima

                      For convenience I sometimes "doctor up" some commercially available sweetened hot dipping sauces – e.g. "Sambal Bangkok" (made by Kokita, of Indonesia) or other similar types; or even Lingham's Hot Sauce – for my Hainanese Chicken Rice. Add rice vinegar and/or fresh lime juice plus grated ginger with the juices included [using the "semi-fine" surface of a box grater] to taste. Not bad. :-)

                      1. re: huiray

                        For hot and fiery sambal, look for Sambal Pemuda if you can. It also can be ordered online at Indomerhant website..

                        1. re: roro808

                          I have that too, amongst others that I rotate through.

                        2. re: huiray

                          I also add lime juice, rice wine vinegar and grated ginger to my Homemade chicken rice chili sauce. Sometimes I add a piece f fresh pineapple instead of sugar if I have some.

                          Glory brand (from Singapore) makes a very decent bottled chicken rice chilli sauce. I always have some on hand for days when I don't feel like making my own.

                          1. re: boogiebaby

                            Heh. I'm aware of the reputation of Glory brand but alas! I've never seen it around my parts. There is a Filipino-run "Chinese"/"Asian" supermarket around here which used to carry Yeo's Hainan Chicken Rice chili sauce (which was interesting, not bad at all) but I haven't seen that there nor anywhere else around here for a while.

                      2. Asia is a big place. There are any number of hot sauces from the many regions of India and Pakistan and Bangladesh and Turkey and Iran/Persia and Korea and etc etc besides the two you list. "Chinese" (which region?) hot sauces are pretty varied. "Sambal", as paulj and Hamster/roro below also point out covers a great deal of ground.

                        I guess you are really asking for hot sauce recommendations for "Chinese" (again, what region?) and "Thai" sauces specifically, not "Asian" hot sauces, as your friend cooks "Chinese" and "Thai" food? Are you thinking of sauces to be used in cooking a dish, or as a dip for the cooked food? The two kinds would differ in character.

                        BTW there is Thai "sriracha" sauce and USA-made "sriracha" sauce [Huy Fong], which is what is often called "Rooster sauce" by many.

                        1 Reply
                          1. Thanks for your responses. I will check into some of these ideas. I plan to make him some Harissa too. Maybe a trip around Asia package is in his future.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                              If you are not limited to Thai and Chinese, why not do a spicy tamarind or tamarind-date chutney, too?

                            2. http://tesathome.com/2012/08/11/spicy...
                              Spicy peanut butter sambal

                              I just made a recipe, with a few tweaks based on what I had on hand - small onion for shallots, dried arbol chiles for the fresh, lemon grass and lime zest for the lime leaves. Makes less than a cup, and probably won't keep in fridge that long. But should add a nice accent to rice and other dishes.

                              I have made a Mexican style peanut based salsa, from R Santibanez 'Truely Mexican' cookbook

                              another sambal with tamarind