You could call this week’s main recipe a food fail. A couple of years ago, I set out to make homemade sriracha. I had grocery bags full of hot peppers that season, and I thought some were destined to become chipotles for Grilled Tomato Chipotle Salsa and others would be fermented to replicate the flavor of the classic Thai chili sauce and paste.
Then we started smoking chilies and attempting to find the perfect balance of smoke and heat. Suddenly I had grocery bags of smoked chilies—which would not ferment. Even at the low temperatures used for smoking, the heat was high enough to kill off the natural bacteria in the peppers that are essential for fermentation. But I was too stubborn not to try. And although my chili paste never fermented, it was delicious.
So now I make Home-Smoked Chili Paste every year and have yet to miss that bottle sriracha on my shelf. I’ve since learned that adding a culture could allow me to smoke and then ferment, so expect more experimentation down the road. But for now, what could be called a food fail has turned into a favorite kitchen staple.
Learn to smoke chilies and make Home-Smoked Chili Paste