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Fermented Chilli Sauce

Fermented chilli sauce

This fermented chilli sauce is not only very versatile, but it also has a long shelf life. This recipe makes use of this old technique to preserve excess chillies by turning them into a flavourful sauce.

Red Jalapeño Chillies
Red Jalapeño chillies

Fermentation is a slow process but requires very little time and effort. Very little can go wrong provided equipment and surfaces are clean and storage containers are sterilized properly. Stored properly, this sauce will last for months in the fridge.

The sauce is made in two stages. During the first stage, the chillies are fermented. Then, during the second stage, the base sauce is flavoured. In this case, soy and toasted sesame oil are prominent aromatics giving the final sauce a Chinese slant. But this does not have to be the case. The base sauce can be flavoured to suit different tastes.

Fermented chilli sauce

Recipe by christiekeulderCourse: CondimentCuisine: NamibianDifficulty: Easy
Cooking time



Making fermented chilli sauce at home is easy. Although it takes time, it requires very little effort. The results are spectacular.


  • The base sauce:
  • 700 grams red jalalpeños (or another medium-sized red chilli), stems and green tops snipped off

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • ½ cup white wine vinegar

  • The ready-to-use sauce:
  • ½ cup base sauce

  • ⅓ cup castor sugar

  • 5 teaspoons soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons rice wine

  • 1 ½ tablespoon toasted-sesame oil


  • The base sauce:
  • Place all ingredients except the vinegar in a food processor. Process until chillies are very finely chopped, stopping to scrape sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer mixture to a clean jar, cover, and let sit at room temperature.
  • Check jar each day for fermentation, when little bubbles start forming at bottom of the jar, about 3-5 days. Stir contents each day, continuing to let ferment until chillies are no longer rising in volume, an additional 2-3 days.
  • Transfer chillies to the jar of a blender, add in white vinegar and puree until completely smooth, 1-3 minutes. Transfer to a mesh strainer set atop of a medium saucepan. Strain mixture into a saucepan, using a rubber spatula to push through as much pulp as possible, only seeded and larger pieces of chillies should remain in the strainer. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until sauce thickens and clings to a spoon, 5 or 10 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
  • The ready-to-use sauce:
  • Add all the ingredients for the sauce in a mixing bowl and mix together until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
Dried chillies

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