How much do you love that book quote in the title? It could not be more true for me. Have you ever heard of the term “hangry?” It’s when you’re so hungry that you get angry/frustrated. It’s a real thing! It’s in Urban Dictionary and everything! And yes, I did just legitimize a term by arguing that it’s in Urban Dictionary.
I can turn from mild mannered lawyer (Is a mild mannered lawyer a thing? I doubt it, it’s not in the UD) to hangry wildebeest in mere seconds and it. Is. Not. Pretty. My poor husband. I say that a lot. I think that’s just how I’m going to refer to him from now on, it is quite accurate. But that’s why when I saw this quote I knew I had to post about it. Also, I’ll take any excuse to write about food. I thought I’d share about my #1 pantry staple because I love looking into other people’s kitchens. Do you remember that tv show MTV Cribs? Is that still on air? I loved looking at rich people’s houses. I just Googled it, the show ended in 2011. Moving on.
I’ve mentioned before that I have family in the West Indies. In fact, most of my father’s side of the family lives there. Fun fact, I’m the first generation American on his side. One of the most important condiments on all of the islands is pepper sauce and it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most utilized condiment in my house. In fact, almost the only condiment on my refrigerator door is pepper sauce. Like, at least 30 bottles of pepper sauce. My poor husband has demanded that I start using some up before I buy more. As a work around, I can still accept gifts of pepper sauce from friends and random strangers who read this blog post. Hint, hint. However, despite all that pepper sauce, I still use basically the same three sauces every day: (1) Tabasco (which I didn’t used to eat but my poor husband is from Louisiana which is where Tabasco is made and he got me hooked); (2) Uncle Bruthu’s ALLSAUCE No. 9 (which I used to buy by the gallon until they stopped selling that size); and (3) my homemade pepper sauce.
Making pepper sauce in Trinidad (where my father was raised) is, I think, a lot like making matzo ball soup. Every household has their own recipe. I’m happy to share my recipe with you, and I encourage you to add your own ingredients. A friend recently made this recipe and added pineapple. I would be lying if I said I didn’t dunk chicken wings into his pepper sauce as part of a wild Saturday night. However, I have a few precautions before getting started:
- Depending on the heat level of your peppers, choking while cooking the sauce is a real possibility. So keep the vent on your stove going full blast from the very beginning and open all the windows you can.
- Wear gloves. The capsaicin, which is the compound that makes the peppers hot, is sticky stuff and no matter how many times you wash your hands it’ll be on you for hours and it will mess up your eyes if you rub them. Trust me on that one.
- Don’t taste your sauce. I know many of us like to do a little QC (quality control) while we’re cooking and there have been plenty of times that I’ve done my own QC without thinking about what I was QCing. That was a bad life choice. Don’t do it.
- If you do accidentally QC, drink milk, not water. Capsaicin is an oil, so in order to stop the burn you need to drink something that will bind with oil and wash it away.
- 15 peppers - ideally scotch bonnet peppers from my Uncle Ori's garden in Trinidad but in case you don't know Uncle Ori you can also buy habanero peppers
- 1-2 pounds of carrots roughly chopped - the more carrots you use, the milder the sauce, but mild is relative, it's going to be hot as hell no matter what
- 1 medium yellow onion cut into big chunks
- 5-10 cloves of garlic - depends on how much you like garlic
- 10 drops lime essential oil or the zest and juice of 2 limes
- 1/4 cup curry powder (optional and I almost never use it)
- 1/4 cup mustard powder (optional and I have never once used it in my own recipe but my dad does)
- 1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (whichever you have handy)
- Water - the amount of water you need will depend on your preferred pourability level. I prefer a chunky sauce that I have to get out of the bottle with a spoon so I use very little liquid (like under a cup). But if you want to be able to pour your sauce then you'll need more. Just eyeball it.
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Get a gigantic pot and put some olive oil to coat. Dump in the carrots, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and sweat until soft. Once soft, add the whole peppers with just the stems removed and let those sauté for about 10 minutes. Add the curry and/or mustard powder at the same time as the peppers, if you are using them. After 10 minutes, add the vinegar, lime oil, and water. Cover and let simmer until the peppers can easily be pierced with a fork. Turn off the heat and blend with an immersion blender or carefully transfer the ingredients to a blender. Once smooth return it to the pot and simmer uncovered until it is your desired thickness.
As far as using the sauce, I literally put it on everything. In fact, I often bring it with me when I’m eating at friend’s houses because I couldn’t possibly have a meal without it. Pepper sauce also makes a phenomenal marinade. I like to buy whole (cleaned) white fish and dump it in a bag with pepper sauce, black pepper essential oil, lemon/lime/lemongrass essential oil, salt, and olive oil and let that sit for an hour or two before either baking it or grilling it. I find essential oils impart more flavor than the whole ingredients, which is why I choose to use the essential oils for most of my marinades.
Have you ever made your own pepper sauce? If not, give this pepper sauce recipe a shot and let me know what you think!
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