Wood­chip-fermented chilli sauce

The Simple Things - - LIVING | WEEKEND PROJECT -

This fermented chilli sauce recipe is some­thing I’ve come to ab­so­lutely love. The wood­chips are com­pletely op­tional but they’re a good cheat’s way of achiev­ing that rich, bar­rel-fermented flavour. Makes 150–200ml 100g chillies, rinsed and pat­ted dry, thinly sliced (re­move seeds and mem­branes for a milder ver­sion) 2 gar­lic cloves, thinly sliced 1 tsp coarse sea salt 1 tbsp oak or ap­ple wood chips 2–3 tbsp cider vine­gar (op­tional) 1–2 tsp honey or maple syrup (op­tional)

1 Pile the chillies and gar­lic into a small glass bowl with the salt. Mas­sage the salt into the chilli and gar­lic with the back of a spoon, or your hands – if you use your hands, make sure you wash them thor­oughly af­ter­wards and don’t be tempted to rub your eyes.

2 Pack the salt-mas­saged chilli and gar­lic into a ster­ilised jar and weigh it down in­side the jar with an egg cup or mini jam jar. Cover with muslin or a thin cloth and let it sit overnight.

3 The next morn­ing, the chillies should have re­leased some of their juices. Re­move the weight and top up the liq­uid with fil­tered wa­ter (see box, right) to 2cm above the chillies.

4 If you’re plan­ning to add the wood­chips, now is the time. Toss the wood­chips in a colan­der and shake to re­move any tiny pieces (to make sure they don’t get into your sauce). If you want, you can toast the wood­chips in a fry­ing pan, stir­ring of­ten, un­til they have a smoky fra­grance. Spoon into a 12cm square of muslin and tie the top se­curely. Add to the jar of chillies and gar­lic.

5 Weigh the con­tents down and se­cure with a lid. Leave the chillies to fer­ment for around 1 week, or un­til the liq­uid starts to bub­ble, open­ing the lid daily to re­lease any gas. The chillies should be ten­der and taste pick­led.

6 Re­move the wood chip bun­dle (if us­ing) and blend the mix­ture (liq­uid and all) un­til smooth. Add a lit­tle vine­gar, if needed, and blitz again to your desired con­sis­tency. You can strain out the solids, if you like, but I leave them in. You can also sweeten it a lit­tle with honey or maple syrup. Once you’re happy with it, pour into a ster­ilised bot­tle, se­cure with a lid and store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

1 Peel off the first few leaves of the cabbage, rinse, pat dry and set aside. Finely shred the rest of the cabbage. Pile it into a large bowl with the ap­ple, salt and cloves. Scrunch to­gether for 5 mins or un­til the mix­ture re­leases about 6 tbsp juice.

2 Add the re­main­ing spices, gin­ger, herbs and zest, and give the mix­ture a fi­nal scrunch. Tuck in the cin­na­mon stick, cover with a clean tea towel and set aside for a few hours or overnight.

3 Pack into a ster­ilised jar (a large 1–2 litre one, such as a big Kil­ner jar is ideal), press­ing it down to help the cabbage re­lease more of its juices. Set the big cabbage leaves on top and press down so that the leaves are fully sub­merged. Set a lit­tle jam jar on top of the mix­ture and weigh it down (or a sealed zi­plock bag filled with peb­bles works well). Se­cure with a lid and leave at room tem­per­a­ture in a warm, dark place for 3–4 days, or as long as 2 weeks, open­ing the lid ev­ery day to re­lease any gases and check the liq­uid still cov­ers the veg.

4 The best way to know if the cabbage is done is to taste it. If it tastes like kraut, it’s kraut. If it’s too salty, it’s not quite ready. Once you’re happy with it, pop it in the fridge, where it will keep for up to 6 months. »

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