Recipe: Bajan Pepper Sauce
Greetings from London, I am back. The first day of Spring (really?!), in Ireland, Earrach (Ar-ock) and the 1st is St Brigid’s Day, where we traditionally made the St Brigid’s crosses. I wonder if kids still do that now?
Everyone was secretly hoping I would be miserable, I think (you were!) but, I love London, and the weather doesn’t really bother me, mainly as I have been away from it for a bit. Plus it is not long until I go away again so I want to soak London up. There is so much to write about Barbados though, and there are those recipes too, so it will live on here for a few more days at least.
The first thing I will share is the recipe for Denise’s Pepper Sauce. For the uninitiated, Bajan pepper sauce is delicious and is served with everything. Recipes and preferences vary but, generally, it is quite spicy (for the UK palate at least) but some are very hot and some a bit cooler. I like mine in the middle somewhere. This one, that I am sharing now, is HOT but, really delicious.
The interesting thing for me is how much turmeric went in it. I love fresh tumreric and use it over dried a lot. It requires prep though so I sometimes opt for powder when pressed for time. Bright yellow, a rhizome like ginger, it stains fiercely, be warned. I have had yellow hands that looked like I was an incredibly clumsy smoker for days after using it the first time. I now use gloves. It is worth seeking out as it is quite different to dried, with beautiful aromas, almost floral. Turmeric is terrifically healthy with anti inflammatory and anti oxidant properties too, it is also said to help prevent cancer and recent studies indicate it may help with lipid metabolism and weight loss.
Denise, a chef at The Club in Barbados where I stayed, shared her mother Thelma’s recipe with me, which I am so grateful for. This is the one I am sharing her with you now. Her mother passed away 2 years ago, and her recipes were her legacy to Denise. She still makes her Bajan seasonings, pepper sauce etc. Her pepper sauce recipe is traditional, and basically is composed of turmeric for colour (it also adds a lovely aromatic quality), chillies for heat, onions for consistency, vinegar thins it out and preserves it, mustard gives it an extra bass note and helps with the consistency too. A pinch of brown sugar balances it.
I took notes as we went, Denise adds as she goes and knows what she is looking for. It is a terrific and quite hot sauce. If you want it milder, add more vinegar and mustard (they use a mild American style mustard), or stretch it with some conrnflour & water. This is what they do for commercial pepper sauces. Personally, I think it takes from the flavour but if you want to reduce the heat, this is one approach you can use.
I have some recipes coming up that use this as an ingredients. Both Bajan recipes, and recipes of my own that use it as an ingredient, including a twist on Sunday roast chicken, which I am very excited about.
Note on the recipe: fresh turmeric is widely available in London in Asian shops and Chinese shops. It looks like skinny small ginger. Fiddly but worth it. I have also seen it in Asda too, so keep an eye out for it. If you can’t get it, don’t worry. I will be publishing my own recipe soon once I have played around a bit, and I will make a version without fresh turmeric.
Recipe: Bajan Pepper Sauce
225g hot scotch bonnet peppers, stems removed
225g peeled onions, coarsely chopped
110g peeled turmeric, diced
4 tbsp American style or mild mustard (prepared not oiwder)
240ml white flavourless vinegar, spirit vinegar would be ideal (again, available in Chinese shops but a flavourless white vinegar will do, just don’t use malt vinegar)
1 tbsp brown sugar
Put the turmeric in a food processer or blender and process until almost smooth. Add a little vinegar to help it along if you need to.
Add the onions, and process until finely chopped. Add the chillies, repeat. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and then add the vinegar, sugar and mustard. You want to keep it a little coarse.
Taste and if too hot, reduce the heat by adding vinegar with some mustard to offset it. Bit by bit, tasting as you go.
Store in sterilised jars or bottles. It will keep out the fridge as the vinegar acts as a preservative.