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Peri-Peri Sauce

Before there was buffalo sauce, there was peri-peri. Peri-peri is a beautiful blend of hot and sweet peppers, citrus, onions, and spices. The sauce gets its name from the main ingredient: the African Bird's Eye chili. In Swahili, it is known as pilipili. In Bantu-speaking regions of Africa, it can also be called peri peri or pili pili.

I'm a regular user of Red Rooster and Tabasco, but I will often turn to peri-peri when I want to broaden my hot sauce horizons. I recently made a new batch over Super Bowl weekend and thought I'd share the recipe. Feel free to add more peppers if you like your sauce extra spicy!


1 large red onion, peeled and quartered

2 red bell peppers, deseeded and quartered

9 cloves of garlic

9 African Bird's Eye chilis, stems removed*

3 tablespoons red palm oil

1/2 cup lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

2 bay leaves

*These are hard to find fresh, so you can substitute with small red Thai chilis. They're the same genus of pepper, but just grown in different geographical areas.

Prep Time: 5 minutes 

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 3-4 cups

In order to get a deep, rich flavor, you have to char the onion and bell peppers. You can char the vegetables by holding them over the flame of your gas stove or by broiling them in the oven.

Once the vegetables have been charred, add them to a food processor or blender along with the other ingredients, except the bay leaves. Blend until all the ingredients are very finely chopped and you have a chunky sauce. If you want more of a thin sauce, you can thin it out with some olive oil and a splash of water.

When finished blending, transfer the sauce to a saucepan over medium heat with the bay leaves and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Make sure to stir every few minutes to prevent the sauce from burning. You may have to adjust the heat to stop the sauce from sputtering.

Taste test the sauce and adjust as you see fit. I ended up adding a bit more salt and some cayenne pepper for an extra, complex heat.

I jar my sauce in a mason jar and it keeps in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. You can also sterilize the jar and properly preserve the sauce.

Notes: This sauce is wonderful on cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and collards) and meats like poultry and seafood.


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