Sriracha. It’s become one of the three cornerstone American condiments alongside ketchup and mustard, and for good reason. It’s spicy, sweet and salty, with a touch of garlic. There’s competitors, but most I’ve tried either lack the body of the real deal, are heavy on the garlic, or have a raw, aggressive garlic taste to them.
A couple years ago, I was working with a sous chef who was obsessed with chilies, and started making his own hot sauces-a sriracha was one of them. The other sauces he made were good, but the sriracha was really good, good enough to best even the original. I had to know how to make it. After a couple casual interrogations he gave me the method, and I set about making my own.
As we all know, sriracha contains garlic. One day I got to thinking:
“Ramps taste like garlic, I should probably make a sriracha with them sometime”
It took a couple years, but finally I got around to making some. All I have to say is: It. Is. So. Good.
The finished product is the spitting image in texture and heat of store bought, but the ramps add a depth that brings it to a higher level. As you would expect, it tastes like sriracha made with ramp bulbs.
It’s easy to make too, but there is one catch: to get the velvety smooth-thick consistency of the real stuff, you really need a high-speed blender (I swear by my Vitamix). Don’t despair though. Home blenders will still yield a very similar sauce, and as long as you have a strainer to remove any skin or seeds, you can still make some decent ramp sriracha, although you may have to cook it a little afterwords to get it nice and thick.
If you’re wondering why you would want to make a replica of a hot sauce that costs 1.99 a bottle, consider the serious culinary street cred you get when you tell your friends you’ve made your own sriracha, or give it to them as a gift. Another reason to make it yourself is that it gives you more control than just buying a bottle of sauce, here’s some ways the flavors can be tweaked and modified easily:
- To make the sauce really, really spicy, leave more seeds of the chilies in.
- Want a sauce that’s sweeter? Add more sugar/sweetener.
- Want to put something else in it? Ginger, smoked chilies, spices like cumin or curry would all be great.
Personally though, I like it just how it is so I’ve only made it with the four ingredients listed below. I play with the sauce after it’s made by adding it to things. It’s great mixed with mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, slapped on eggs, used in marinades and other sauces, and pretty much as an all purpose condiment.
Fermented Ramp Sriracha
- 1.5 lbs ramp bulbs roughly chopped
- 2 cups white sugar
- ¼ cup salt
- 4 lbs red fresno peppers
- Wearing gloves, halve the peppers, then remove all of the white pith membrane and seeds. Rinse the peppers if needed. Toss the peppers with the salt, sugar, and ramps then pack into a container and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ramps and peppers.
- Take a plastic bag inside another plastic bag you’ve filled with some water, (a couple quarts will do) then place that on top of the plastic wrapped pepper mixture, this ensures an even ferment.
- Allow the mixture to ferment for 14 days, or until nice and funky, stirring it every few days. Afterwords, transfer the pepper-ramp mixture and the liquid (it will have given off about 1 qt) to a saucepan, bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Afterwords, transfer the mixture to a highspeed blender in small batches and puree until very, smooth, making sure to use the tamper/accelerator attachment. Pass the mixture through a chinois strainer, then put into a container, chill, label, date, and reserve until needed. The sauce can also be frozen.