Here’s an album I thought you might enjoy while cooking this recipe ?
As a relative ‘noob’ to the hot pepper and hot sauce world, I’m especially proud of this delicious Fresno Pepper Hot Sauce with Ginger and Mint. Don’t be fooled by the steps involved – there is nothing complicated about this recipe, and the results will have you hopping! This is my most requested foodstuff by far, and it gives me such joy to cook up a batch for friends & family!
My love for Fresno peppers…
Ok, so Fresno Peppers. In Oregon at least, any time I mention these babies (and I mention them a lot), I get a lot of confusion. They’re not the most common variety, but I am lucky that my local grocery store regularly stocks them, and this Fresno Pepper Hot Sauce is my new go-to
Fresnos are similar to jalapeño peppers in shape and heat level, but that is essentially where the similarities end. Fresno peppers are actually a variety of New Mexico chili that is distinct from jalapeños. The flavor is tart, fruity, and slightly floral. It doesn’t have the sort of raw bell pepper taste that you often get with green chilis like jalapeño and serrano. The orange in this recipe really brings out some great tart, fruity notes in the final sauce. The heat is, on average, slightly gentler than a jalapeño, making it great for sauces, stews, ceviches, curries, and chilis. They are fantastic raw as well, and I love using them in salads and pasta dishes like my Spicy Peanut Asian Noodle Salad. (Convinced? Try my easy DIY Fresno Orange Chili Powder recipe!)
The Prep Work
The first step in this Fresno Pepper Hot Sauce is trimming the stems off of the peppers and giving them a rough chop – around 1″ pieces is good. You’re going to be blending them obviously; you just need them cut down a bit so they absorb the vinegar and start to break down slightly.
No need to peel the ginger – just slice the chunk lengthwise and toss ’em in with the Fresno peppers. Grab your sprigs of mint and tie them together with a bit of twine. This is optional, but will make it much easier to pull them out later. If you want to leave the mint in the final sauce, knock yourself out!
TIP: If you don’t have kitchen twine, a clean rubber band or even a wire twist-tie will do the trick!
Steep those chilis!
Bring the vinegar, water, salt & sugar to a boil. Add the chilis, garlic, ginger and mint to the pan and remove from heat! Cover that up and let it cool. Essentially you are quick-pickling the chilis, not cooking them. If you really ‘cook’ the peppers, you will get a much different final sauce. Try it sometime! Maybe you’ll like it!
Once things cool down enough to easily handle, you’ll want to give things a blend. You’ll be doing a final blend later, so right now you just need to break everything down.
Tomatoes and onions give a jammy sweetness and help with texture
I know the hot sauce cognoscenti will put me in my place for this step. No one ever told me to do it – but I think it gives the sauce two things. First, there is a wonderful sweetness from the onions and tomatoes that helps balance the heat and deepen the flavor. Second, both of these ingredients contain pectin, a natural thickener, that helps the consistency of the final sauce.
Using the same pan that you steeped the chilis in, cook the onions and tomatoes in the water until they get to a jammy consistency. No need for oil, the water will be plenty to keep things from sticking. Just watch and reduce the heat if things start to burn. If you’re over medium to medium-high heat, you should see the water evaporate in 5-7 minutes. Once the water has evaporated, add the ketchup and cook through, stirring constantly, until the ketchup coats the veggies and you have a thick, jammy consistency.
Time to add the pureed peppers back to the pot! The goal here is to ‘marry’ the tomato mixture in with the sauce and reduce to the consistency you like. Just pour the contents of the blender back into the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow to boil for 1-2 minutes, then turn the heat down to simmer until you get where you want with the thickness. I aim for about ⅔ of the original volume. If you like a thinner sauce, pull it earlier. If you want a thicker, jammier sauce, reduce a bit more. You do you!
Once you have reduced the sauce to your liking, remove from heat and let it cool slightly. (Enough to safely put into the blender) Here is where you will add the juice of 2 limes – then, blend away!
A note about blenders…
I was lucky enough to be gifted a very nice blender, and it has been a game-changer for me in the kitchen. For sauces like this, there is no need to strain or sieve. HOWEVER, not everyone has such generous loved ones (it was a wedding gift!). Not to worry – you can make do with whatever you have; blender, immersion blender, food processor… Just be aware that you might need to strain your sauce if you can’t get it as blended as you like. There’s no law against chunky hot sauce!
Bottle it up!
Once you have things blended to your liking, it’s time to give it a taste! You may need to adjust for your taste. Add salt if needed…if you need acid, a splash of vinegar or lime juice will help. If it’s too sharp/tart/spicy, a bit of sweetness in the form of honey, sugar or agave will do the trick!