Have you heard of piri-piri sauce before? If you like hot and spicy sauces, you should try piri-piri. It’s a common Portuguese condiment, used to brush on chicken before grilling or baking as well as on other foods such as seafood or pork. It may be drizzled onto cooked foods as well to add extra spiciness. The Portuguese, being the seafaring explorers they were centuries ago, came across the hot and spicy varieties of peppers found in Africa, such as the peri-peri pepper also called African bird’s eye chili. They used them to make the spicy sauce so popular today in mainland Portugal, their former colonies Angola and Mozambique among others, and beyond to Namibia and South Africa.
One hot pepper plant in a pot on my deck gives me more than enough for 2 jars of sauce. I love watching the pepper buds grow green and long in the summer sun and then finally turn bright red in August! Here is my version of piri-piri:
- 4-6 red hot chili peppers
- 2 large garlic cloves
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- splash of whiskey (about 1/4 cup)
- pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in food processor and whizz away to desired consistency. Mine is slightly chunky. Pour into glass jar and let sit in fridge for a week for flavors to mature. Then it’s ready.
The lemon juice and whiskey is crucial to preserve this sauce for many months, stored in the fridge. I have also frozen it to extend its shelf life. Take it out of the fridge about 15 minutes before use to allow the olive oil to soften and liquefy (it tends to thicken in the fridge). If you’d like a redder color to your sauce, you may add some paprika.