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Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce #1

Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

There’s so much to love about the food of SE Asia. It’s the wonderful mouth tingling balance of hot sweet salty aromatic flavours backed by an umami punch that I can’t resist so I was super excited to see a recipe for Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce in Diana Henry’s cookbook “Sugar Salt Smoke.” Other than tamari, Sweet Chilli Sauce is the one Asian condiments I buy just to use as a dipping sauce.

Using Henry’s recipe as a guide I’ve added subtracted and swapped ingredients so that the end result not only tastes great but the sauce won’t upset sensitive tummies either.

This is much much more than any other sweet chilli sauce I’ve ever tasted. The sweetness is restrained and beautifully balanced with the acid of the lime and vinegar, while the herbal notes of coriander and lemongrass shine through freshly. I discarded the seeds from half of the chillies as Henry suggested and found the heat factor is just right, it has an assertive presence but doesn’t make your eyes water.

The whole process was quick and easy thanks to the food processor, but you could pound the aromatics into a paste with a mortar and pestle if you wanted to channel your inner Thai.

Just a few notes of caution….

1.Wear rubber gloves while preparing the chillies to prevent finger burn and then accidental subsequent rubbing of your eyes with chilli fingers.

2. Make the caramel in a deep sided saucepan so minimise errant splatters when you add the other ingredients.

3. Wear an oven mitt when you pour the chilli paste into the caramel to protect your hand and forearm from splatter burns.

4. Avoid inhaling the chilli laden fumes that rise from the pot when you add the aromatic paste. They will take your breath away!

Rice Paper Rolls and  Steamed Meatballs are my favourite foods for dipping into Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce. The links will take you to my recipes.

PS. Half way through eating a batch of rice paper rolls we were looking for more salt and sugar than this batch of Hot Chilli Sauce delivered. This recipe needs to be tweaked a little for our taste, but that doesn’t demean the delicious of this sauce, we were being super analytical. 

Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce (makes 500mls)

6 large red chillies, 3 deseeded, roughly chopped

40g root ginger (peeled weight) roughly chopped

1 cup (firmly packed) fresh coriander leaves

2 stems of lemon grass, tender middle part, roughly sliced

finely grated zest 3 limes

juice of 2 limes

50mls fish sauce (nam pla)

120 mls rice vinegar

300g castor sugar

1/4 cup water

Make a paste using the chillies, ginger, lemongrass, coriander, lime zest and juice. Process until very very finely chopped. Add the fish sauce and vinegar.

In a deep sided heavy based saucepan, combine the sugar and water then place over a high heat and bring to the boil, gently stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Simmer the sugar syrup until a deep caramel colour.

Very carefully pour in the other ingredients. The hot caramel will spit.

Return the mixture to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

Leave to cool then pour into a sterilised jar* with an acid resistant lid.

Store in the refrigerator.

Will keep almost indefinitely.

*Click the link to find the instructions for preparing jars for the storage of preserves.

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

21 comments on “Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce #1

  1. I just purchased that book by Diana Henry and will search out the recipe. For some reason the fresh red chili peppers are hard to find (especially in mid winter), it would not be as pretty with green jalapeños but the substitution would probably be ok.


  2. Nancy |Plus Ate Six
    February 20, 2017

    Excellent! I’ve been waiting for you to post the recipe!


  3. Amy
    February 19, 2017

    Looks so delicious! Thank you for the recipe. 🙂


    • ladyredspecs
      February 19, 2017

      You’re welcome Amy, this is much more complex than any Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce I’ve ever tasted

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Karen
    February 19, 2017

    I always have a jar of sweet chili sauce in the fridge. Never thought to make my own so thanks for the inspiration.


    • ladyredspecs
      February 19, 2017

      You’re welcome. I was in the same situation Karen, the I saw this recipe, very easy, super tasty

      Liked by 1 person

  5. chefkreso
    February 17, 2017

    Thanks for the recipe 😀


  6. lulu
    February 17, 2017

    You do post some of the tastiest recipes. I especially like the ones with Thai flavors.


  7. Rupali
    February 16, 2017

    Great. Thanks for sharing.


  8. fergie51
    February 16, 2017



  9. Lisa @ cheergerm
    February 16, 2017

    Oh, this sounds delish. I have never made a sweet chilli sauce with caramel in it and have added this to my must make list. (Will wear a hazmat suit to prevent burning myself….which is highly likely….)


  10. StefanGourmet
    February 16, 2017

    I make a more simple version that has just chillies, sugar, salt, and vinegar. It is outstanding, though I like it even more when enriched with crushed peanuts, cucumber, and cilantro. Interesting idea to use a caramel, I wonder if that is a way to mimic the flavor of palm sugar?


  11. Ardys
    February 16, 2017

    I have just printed this out. I have all the ingredients except the lemongrass and ginger. Have no idea where to find the lemongrass though. That road to hell is paved with good intentions… looks delicious, though, thanks Sandra!


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