There are some condiments that will NEVER go out of style. Asian sweet chilli sauce is one of them. If you knew you could make it yourself, your very own spicy sweet chilli sauce customized just the way you like it, and when you already have most of the ingredients in your pantry, wouldn’t you want to give it a try? This is truly The Best Spicy Sweet Chili Sauce that I’ve ever had, and the only recipe you’ll ever need for it.
Imagine a steaming hot spring roll, an egg roll, fried chicken, grilled chicken, chicken wings, chicken nuggets, crab rangoon, wanton, fried calamari, cheesy toast etc. etc. Now imagine the same without that ever present, faithful sidekick – the dipping sauce? Not quite the same, is it? Whether it’s game day, or you’re eating out or you have friends over, sometimes a great appetizer or snack just isn’t the same without that beautiful condiment – the dipping sauce.
That may not always be the case of course. I recently made some Mini Cheesy Chicken Pies and Pork Sausage rolls, which I thought were perfect without any condiments. But for those moments when you do need one, an easy to make, insanely delicious, homemade dipping sauce might just make all the difference!
And one of my absolute favourite dipping sauces is Thai Sweet Chili Sauce! I used to ALWAYS have a bottle of sweet chili sauce in my fridge, and use it on pretty much everything. It’s my go-to condiment.
Get ready for the Best Thai Sweet Chili Sauce you will ever make! (With ingredient substitutions to make it easier for you!)
Yes, it’s readily available in any supermarket or grocery store worth its salt. But if you know me, you know that I love to make whatever I can, whenever I can, from scratch. And this is one of those things that really is simple enough that you can make yourself at home easily. Plus you know exactly what goes in it, so it’s healthier, and with this recipe, you know that the results are going to be glorious! 🙂
My problem with store-bought sweet chili sauce is that it’s just not spicy enough. I sometimes add extra chili peppers to correct this, but it’s just not the same. Raw chilli in the sauce doesn’t work as well. So the solution of course was to make it myself.
So on one of my trips to the grocery store, I looked at the label on the sweet chili sauce bottle and the ingredients were – sugar, water, picked red chilli, vinegar, garlic, salt and xanthan gum. That sounded simple enough, and all I needed was to find the best ratio of those ingredients. Except, I can’t find red chili peppers anywhere, where I live. I only have access to green chilli peppers here, and the red ones are the sweet kind, and that’s not going to do the job. Plus I wanted to substitute for xanthan gum because it may not be easy to locate for most people.
So, instead of going on a treasure hunt to locate red chilli peppers (seriously, red chilli may as well be Uranium over here because I just can’t find it) and then pickling them myself, I took a shortcut. I used Sambal Oelek, which is a spicy Asian chilli sauce made with red chilli peppers! It’s pretty easy to find in your local grocery store or supermarket, and it’s a staple in our house for curries. So I figured why not?
I made the first batch with a small amount of white vinegar, and the second batch with rice vinegar (regular, not the flavoured kind). I definitely prefer the one made with rice vinegar, it tastes more authentic. And instead of using xanthan gum, I used cornflour, which is much easier to find. Plus, I also used soy sauce as seasoning (gluten-free soy sauce for the GF version) to make it taste even better! I like adding Soy Sauce (even the gluten free version) instead of salt – but you can easily add salt to taste instead.
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 7oz / 200g white sugar
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (gluten-free soy sauce or salt if you'd like to keep it gluten-free or soy-free)
- ¼ - ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional - leave it out if you prefer it less spicy).
- 2.25oz / 63g sambal oelek (or 3 - 4 red chilies chopped finely or minced - about 2½ tbsp)
- 1 ½ tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 2 tbsp water
- Add the first 6 ingredients in a nonstick pan. Heat over medium-heat while stirring, to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
- Add the Sambal Oelek and mix it through.
- Mix the cornflour and water into a smooth slurry and add this to the sauce as well.
- While stirring frequently (to prevent the sauce from burning at the bottom), simmer the sauce for a further 5-10 minutes or till it reaches a desired thickness. Remember, the sauce thickens as it cools as well.
- Pour into glass jars with air tight lids (OR heated and sterilized jars to store it for longer).
- Cool to room temperature and store in the fridge.
The great thing about this recipe – apart from being super easy to make and super delicious – is that you can keep it fairly runny or quite thick. If you cook it longer, it becomes thick and is ideal to mix through cream cheese for an excellent creamy dip!
The runny version is better as a sauce for stir-fries or as a simple sauce. Personally, I like the thicker version. Deliciously thick and intensely flavourful, it’s perfect as a dip or a sauce or anything else you could practically put this sauce to use for. It’s more sweet than spicy, with just a little bit of heat that leaves a gentle reminder of its presence in your mouth.
This is definitely a recipe that you should add to your repertoire. Imagine telling your friends that wicked sweet chili sauce is all homemade? Plus it looks so gorgeous with that vibrant red colour. That counts for something too right? 🙂
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