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01/21/2013

~ "Would You Like Sweet Chili Sauce With That?" ~

IMG_0137If you are a lover of Asian food, you know that having the right condiment or dipping sauce to go with the right dish is very important.  If you are a lover of Asian food, you, like me, probably have a nice collection of Asian sauces in your pantry or refrigerator.  I have at least ten.  That being said, when I'm going to the time and trouble to prep Asian fare, I don't mind taking an extra few minutes to prepare a special condiment or dipping sauce to go with it.  Sweet chili sauce is one of them and it could not be easier to make!

41US76xlGSL._AA160_A bit about Thai Sweet Chili Sauce:  Whenever I introduce someone to this product (and, if you get to know me long enough, you WILL be introduced to it), I refer to it as:  "the ketchup of Thailand").  I got my first taste of Thai sweet chili sauce back in the 1990's.  It rocked my foodie world.  To this day, it is my hands-down all-time favorite condiment.  Give me a nice piece of chicken, some fresh broccoli florets, a cup of jasmine rice and sweet chili sauce, and: 20 minutes later I will present you with a memorable dinner.  There is always a bottle of it in my refrigerator, and, I won't lie, it is often a store-bought bottle (this is one case where store-bought is just that good).  How can I be sure?

6a0120a8551282970b017617268b9e970c-320wiBack in 1993 I had the great pleasure of becoming quick friends with a Home Economist from Thailand.  Kanya Wacharamai was living here in State College with her husband Fu, who was earning an engineering degree from Penn State.  When we two gals introduced my engineer husband Joe to Fu, we four began getting together regularly.  Kanya has since moved back to Thailand, but during those three marvelous years, Kanya not only taught me personally how to cook and serve Thai food:  she taught several very popular Thai cooking classes from her apartment kitchen (all of which I attended).  Thanks to Kanya, Thai cuisine is a big, happy part of my culinary life.  Thanks to Kanya, I also grow my own Thai bird chile pepper plants!

IMG_9929For the sweet chili sauce:

3/4  cup sugar

1/2  cup rice vinegar

1/4  cup water

1  tablespoon pressed garlic, about 3-4 large garlic cloves run through a press

1  tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1  tablespoon cornstarch

1  tablespoon cold water

1  tablespoon Thai fish sauce

IMG_9952 IMG_9951                                                ~ Step 1. In a 1-quart saucepan, briefly stir together the sugar, vinegar and water.  Just stir long enough to combine, not to dissolve the sugar (that will come later).  Set aside.

IMG_9940

 

 

~ Step 2.  Run the garlic through a press and set aside.  Measure the crushed red pepper flakes and set aside.  Stir together the cornstarch and water, until smooth.  Set aside.

IMG_9962

 

 

 

 

~ Step 3.  Bring the sugar mixture to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly, until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the pressed garlic and crushed red pepper.

IMG_9969Adjust heat (lower it a bit), to a steady simmer and continue to cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

IMG_9972~ Step 4.  Briefly restir the cornstarch mixture.  Adjust heat to a gentle simmer (lower it a bit more) and drizzle the cornstarch "slurry" into the simmering liquid.

IMG_9982Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until nicely thickened, about 30-60 seconds.  Stir in the fish sauce. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside, about 15-20 minutes.

IMG_9989~ Step 5.  Place in a food storage container and cool until sauce is at room temperature.  Place in the refrigerator.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.  Today I made 1 cup of sauce, but the recipe doubles or triples with ease if you want to make a bigger batch... which I almost always do!

31lfX8odCJL._AA160_Note:  My sauce is not as red colored as the store-bought kind. That is because store-bought sweet chili sauce is made using pulverized, bright-red, pickled, Thai bird chile peppers.  Some recipes instruct to add Sriracha hot chili sauce (which I like) to the sweet chili sauce recipe, to achieve the red color, but I find that product to vinegar-y in this culinary application.  Stay tuned for my next blog post when: I'll explore the world of Sriracha hot sauce!

"Would You Like Sweet Chili Sauce With That?":  Recipe yields 1 cup of sauce.

Special Equipment List:  garlic press; 1-quart saucepan; food storage container w/tight-fitting lid

IMG_0116Cook's Note:  Want a great dish to serve this amazing sauce with?  It's pictured here today served drizzed over the top of my recipe for ~ Love Me Tender(s):  Coconut-Crusted Chicken Tenders ~.  It can be found by clicking in Categories 1, 2, 11, 13 or 19!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)

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