This has been on my list for a long time; not a cooking sauce, or a milder sploshing sauce, like you might get at Nandos, but more like one of the small bottled hot sauces you get in Portugal, used in drops, slightly salty and with lots of lemon. Portuguese Macarico and Brazilian Quinta D’avo are examples of this type of sauce which carry the general tag of molho picante, which means, well, hot sauce. That name doesn’t carry much information, but at least it differentiates between those and cooking sauces.
I experimented with some extra flavours, such as bay leaf and oregano, but the flavours I wanted to get were lemons, and the sharp heat of the piri piri, which has hints of sweetcorn when dried so in the end I left out the herbs. The saltiness has always been a characteristic I have noticed in these sauces too, so I used a bit extra there.
I am a big fan of piri piri as written before so I have a good supply of them. I have some from last year which were dried, and I powdered these so I could pack in as much piri piri as possible. This also helps a lot with the consistency. This has actually turned out to be a pretty hot sauce, lets say these piri piri are about 80-100,000 SHU, and in 40g of powder there are probably about 140 chillies, that with a dozen fresh ones means they average out at about 80 chillies per 140ml bottle. A lot hotter than making a sauce with 5 or 6 fresh habs per bottle.
Sometimes when we are looking for a real citrus flavour there is a temptation to add more and more juice when a lot of the flavour is in the skin, so I have used a whole lemon in this. I think it is this that gives this sauce some individuality, it is evident even from the boiling mix that there is lots of herby lemon, even before you taste it.
Ingredients (makes just over two 140ml bottles)
- 40g piri piri powder
- 12 fresh piri piri
- 100ml white wine vinegar
- 200ml water
- 1 whole lemon
- 1 heaped teaspoon salt
I used a very high powered blender for this, it smashes up the seeds and deals with the lemon easily. You may need to boil more and filter the bits out if you don’t have a decent blender.
Wash and roughly chop the lemon and the fresh chillies. Add all the ingredients together in a blender and blend them until they are smooth.
Add to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes stirring frequently.
If you think it isn’t smooth enough, blend it again, wash out the saucepan to remove bits then return it to the pan for a final heat, which helps remove the air bubbles and makes it easier to bottle. Add a little extra water if it is looking too thick at this stage.
Funnel it into sterilised bottles.
I have based the quantities in this recipe around using a single lemon, which conveniently fills about two 140ml bottles. If there is a little left over stick it in the fridge and use it in a milder cooking sauce within a couple of weeks.
This is a preserved sauce, salty with high acidity, and should last years in the bottle as long as the top doesn’t get too claggy.