Chili garlic sauce is a saving grace in every kitchen. It pushes all kinds of dishes to a whole other level with a kick of heat. While you can easily pick up a jar from the supermarket, you might want some control over the chili-garlic levels. Some brands tend to be overwhelmingly spicy that it becomes distracting.
This recipe maintains tolerable heat levels—mild enough to be its ulam, but with enough sting to keep it interesting. Grab your food processor and a lidded jar.
- ½ cup fresh red chilies
- ¾–1 cup oil
- 2 star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup minced garlic
- 2 tsp red chili flakes
- ¼ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1–2 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp soy sauce
- ¼ tsp rice wine vinegar
Place fresh red chilies in a food processor and blend until broken down. Set aside.
Add oil, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and bay leaf in a saucepot over low heat. Stir spices until fragrant, then add the chilies. Be careful with this step—the oil might overflow.
Add minced garlic, stirring continuously for 1 minute. Add chili flakes, Chinese five-spice powder, salt, and sugar. The sugar helps caramelize the chilies, plus adds a deeper red color to the sauce. Keep stirring until garlic is browned.
Mix in soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Adjust seasoning according to taste: more soy sauce for salty umami, or rice vinegar to tame the heat.
Remove sauce from heat and let cool. Transfer to a jar or a container with a tight-fitting lid. Store and keep chilled in the fridge for up to 2 months.