As I mentioned in the last post, the time has come (“the Walrus said…,”) to use the pile of remaining peppers from the garden, and it occurred to me that these might actually be good DIY gift ideas! I decided on a first attempt at homemade hot sauce and also two different chili oils: a standard one for daily use and a sesame-szechuan peppercorn oil to satisfy a constant and unending desire for all things sesame. There are still almost two pounds of jalapeños left, so a jalapeño pepper jelly might be another project that will have to happen in the next day or two! I’m thinking these might wind up as holiday gifts, so if there are other people out there who like to do that sort of thing (I definitely do!), these would be be easy to make and fun to hand out. Salts and oils are usually pretty big hits if you’re looking for ideas! Seaweed salt, bonito salt, bacon salt, pork salt, shallot oil, and so on have gone over really well!
I’m not sure that many people have access to free peppers, but you can usually find fairly inexpensive varieties (if fresh peppers are too expensive, these recipes will still be good if you substitute bulk dried chiles), and the oil in these recipes is a neutral one, so you could definitely grab a canola or vegetable oil if you find a good deal! Little bottles are usually pretty easy to locate at thrift shops and dollar stores, and if you’re a Christmasy sort of person, feel free to stick a couple of red and green peppers in the bottles for the color. A little ribbon, and you’re set!
First of all, the simple chile oil. The idea is to capture an Italian flavor profile that would be fantastic drizzled on sandwiches, salads, and pizzas and would also taste great if someone wanted to drag a piece of bread through it. This one is crazy simple!
Playing with peppers: DIY gift ideas
- 2 cups neutral oil, like safflower or grapeseed
- 5-10 chiles of your choice (I used rooster and thai, but you could use fresh or dried, anything from Arbol to Ancho or Serrano! Go with what you like!)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- Cut the stems off of the chilies. (If you want an oil with little or no spice, halve the peppers and remove all seeds and membranes.)
- Heat oil in a small pot to almost smoking. Make sure that you choose a pot that is at least a few inches taller than the height of your oil.
- REMOVE THE PAN FROM THE HEAT.
- Carefully add the chilies and garlic to the oil. They will spit and bubble vigorously. Be safe!
- Allow the oil to cool completely with the chilies and garlic.
- For best results, store the oil chilled. If you wind up using olive oil, it will get cloudy and viscous in the fridge. That's normal; it will clear up pretty well when you return it to room temperature.
Oh! This is unexpected! I can’t add another Yummly recipe in the same post. The simple chili oil is above, but I’ll have to add the other recipes on their own pages. If that’s something that will help you, please click the links below. They will just be pages with the individual recipes. If I can figure out how to change this, I’ll come back and get these on the same page. That’s a serious drawback!
I suppose I could put all three on one card, but I think that would make them look complicated. They aren’t! If you do decide that you want to throw these together for a DIY gift, I want to make sure that’s as easy as possible!
Here are the recipes:
Sesame-Szechuan Chili Oil – For the sesame-schezuan oil, the concept is practically the same, just a few extra ingredients.
Fermented Kimchi-Inspired Hot Sauce – When making this recipe, I started by looking for a solid, basic recipe. Bon Appetit has a perfect basic master hot sauce recipe. What I wanted to do was take those ideas and make something that was interesting to me and that I couldn’t find anywhere else.
The most important aspect of cooking is knowing what you like to eat and what interests you! For example, I know I love fermented flavors, I really love kimchi (ooh! that’s a recipe I’ll have to share soon!) and I totally prefer apple cider vinegar in recipes to distilled white whenever swapping them out makes sense. The more you cook and experiment, the more comfortable you’ll get making swaps like that one. In this recipe, swapping out the distilled white vinegar for Bragg’s raw cider vinegar will work well. In keeping with the fermented flavor of a good kimchi, I added a little garlic, ginger, red onion, and fresh pineapple. (As well as a little Korean chili flake and fish sauce! Feel free to use or not use those as you prefer. The recipe will work just fine without them.) Also, I have tons of jalapeños, so I bumped up the quantity of the jalapeños and adjusted the salt and vinegar quantities. Looking at the recipe, tripling the quantities of salt and vinegar made no sense, so, since I’ve done loads of fermenting , I knew that keeping the salt quantity (by weight) to around 20% of the recipe was a safe choice. My hot sauce will be fermenting for the next 12 days or so, but I’ll definitely let you know how it turns out!
All of these are pretty easy and could make a great DIY gift, so give them a try! The hot sauce takes a few ingredients and a while to ferment, but that one doesn’t even need to be cooked!