Ever since a friend bought me a tiny bottle of the South Devon Chilli Farm’s ‘Habanero Sauce’ I’ve been sloshing the stuff on everything, on-top of pasta, drizzled over cheese on toast, a few drops in some burger mince, or salsas, or tacos, or even in a whole batch of chocolate truffles .. you name it at some point I’ve probably considered whether or not a tiny hint of spice would taste good in it. Like all good things though, it eventually ran out and I had to settle on a easier to source (sorry) brand that the local supermarket have.
Thankfully last week I stumbled across a whole market stalls worth of chilli whilst in London’s fantastic Borough Market. I was about the pick up a bottle of the stuff, when I noticed that they had dried habaneros on sale for much cheaper. Instantly a plan was formed. I’d make my own. And it turns out it’s stupidly easy to make, but just a little bit painful.
Step 1 was easy, open up the chillis, de-seed and slice them. As I got them out they smelt amazing – with big notes of sweet strong spice mixed together with a musty rolling tobacco odor like my granddad used to smoke.
Step 2 was soak them in near-boiling water for 15 minutes. After that time the chillis started to look a little wierd, like tiny bits of cured meat. The vapour coming off them tinged my nose as I breathed it in. I knew this was going to be pretty hot. I drained the chillis, keeping the brown water they’d soaked in aside.Step 3 sounded equally as simple, add some salt and blitz it up. Sadly we still don’t have a food processor so I had to used a handheld electric blender. This turned out to be a fatal error.As soon as I started blending the chillis I began coughing, my eyes started watering and every breathe through my nose burnt. I had to stand with the whole dish and arms length, open all the windows, turn on the extractor fan and cover my mouth. It turns out that habanero flavored air is about as spicy as the sauce itself.
As I blended it together I added the soaking water back to the sauce, and within 5 minutes the texture of the sauce got an acceptably watery/bitty feel. All I had to do was funnel it all into a bottle, snap the lid shut and then wash my hands repeatedly for 5 minutes. Regardless I still managed to rub some chilli into my eye a few hours later!
The result though is amazing and totally worth it, it’s obscenely hot, much hotter than any sauce from a supermarket and tastes just as good as the professional stuff made down in Devon – all sweet, tangy, musty and warm. Go try it for yourself if you can find the chillis at a market near you, just note that it’ll be much easier and less painful if you’ve got a food processor!