Freshly made Magic Hot Sauce. I omitted the paprika this time, so it looks more yellowish.
Although the season is practically at an end, we are still reaping an abundant harvest of hot peppers, which I’ve been making into so-called Magic Sauce. Why do I call it magic? Well, because it improves the taste of pretty much any dish – it can be added to soups and stews, slathered over chicken before it goes into the oven, sneaked into pasta sauce for a spicy surprise, added to toast for a sharp, hot twist, mixed with cream cheese to create a spicy dip — you name it!
It's my favorite cooking secret and I just love it when people look up from whatever they are eating and ask, "what did you put in there to make it taste so good?"
Warning: The capsaicin in hot peppers can be extremely irritating when it comes in contact with bare skin, so always wear gloves when handling hot peppers, and be careful not to touch your face – or even worse, your eyes. Keep small children well away from your working area. I’m speaking from experience – I was careless once, and had to endure an extremely unpleasant couple of hours with intense burning sensation in my hands.
I don’t use exact measurements for this sauce, but do a little variation each time according to what I have on hand, deriving some inspiration from traditional Yemenite zhug. Having said that, you will need:
• 8-10 ripe, fresh hot peppers of any variety
• 1 ripe tomato
• 1 sprig of celery or some parsley or cilantro
• 1/2 a head of garlic
• Salt to taste (approx. 1 teaspoon)
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• Paprika for a nice color (optional)
1. Cut the peppers lengthwise and de-seed.
2. Combine all ingredients in the food processor and start blending. You may add a little boiled water, or some more olive oil, if the mixture is too thick.
3. Continue until well blended and pour into glass jars. This can keep in the refrigerator up to one week, or you can divide your sauce into portions (for example in an ice-cube tray) and freeze it.
A denser, thicker and longer-keeping hot pepper paste can be made by using dry rather than fresh peppers and no fresh vegetables – dry your hot peppers in the sun, in a dehydrator or simply in your oven on a low setting and combine with garlic, olive oil and salt in the food processor.
The season for fresh hot peppers will soon be past, even here, and I know that before long I will be looking forward to next year’s harvest.
Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here.
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