Hoi An Chili Sauce Recipe

The first time I ate Hoi An Chili Sauce was in 2017 when I visited Hoi An and enjoyed an “authentic” Hoi An Chicken Rice there. Hoi An chili sauce is amazing: it has a harmonious spicy taste, a rich but smooth texture, with crunchy fried garlic pieces in it. The smell of it is also really nice. Since then, every time I am in Danang and Hoi An, I’ll definitely buy at least one jar of Hoi An Chili Sauce. Now I’m living so far away from home, but with this recipe, I’m able to make it anywhere. Let’s get started.

Hoi An Chili Sauce

What is Hoi An Chili Sauce?

Hoi An Chili Sauce, also known as Hoi An Stir-Fried Chili Sauce, is a special sauce from Hoi An Ancient Town (Quang Nam Province), a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. The history of Hoi An is rich and dates back over a thousand years. This ancient town has seen various influences, from indigenous cultures to foreign trade and colonialism. By the 15th century, Hoi An began to grow into a prominent trading port.

Like Hoi An’s rich history, Hoi An Chili Sauce is a special chili sauce with a unique flavor. The spiciness of this chili sauce is very pleasant, with various interesting hints inside, such as fried garlic and roasted sesame. It’s not too sweet or sour, allowing the aroma of red chilies to shine through.

Hoi An Chili Sauce

People in this region can eat everything with this chili sauce, from their specialties like Quang Noodle, Hoi An Chicken Rice, Cao Lau, to Pho, Pho Tron, Glass Noodle, Banh Mi (Vietnamese Baguette) & Banh Mi Chao, Hu Tieu, etc. For me, it really enhances the flavor of every dish. Although I’m not a good spicy eater, I’m still into Hoi An Chili Sauce so much.

Ingredients

Bird’s Eye Chili, Cowhorn Pepper, Shallot, Garlic, and Tomato are the main ingredients for this sauce. Besides that, you’ll enhance the color of your chili sauce with annatto oil and adjust the flavor with brown sugar, fish sauce, and water.

Hoi An Chili Sauce

Because this is a homemade chili sauce, you are free to adjust the spiciness level. Cowhorn pepper is often sweeter and milder than other types of chilies, with a light spicy taste. Therefore, the spiciness of your chili sauce depends on Bird’s Eye Chili (another name: Thai Chili). This is a really hot chili which is popularly consumed across Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

  • Cowhorn chilies: You can easily buy cowhorn chilies in every supermarket.
  • Bird’s Eye Chilies: With Bird’s Eye Chilies, I usually buy them from Asian Grocery Stores if I couldn’t find them in nearby shops. Remember that Bird’s Eye Chili is very hot, so taste it first before deciding on the number of chilies you should add to the sauce. For me, I used only 1 medium Bird’s Eye Chili.
  • Annatto oil: For annatto oil, refer to this post on how to make annatto oil. Prepare dried annatto seeds and cooking oil. It is used to enhance the overall vibrant orange-red color of the sauce.
  • Fish sauce: In case you are not familiar with fish sauce, you can replace it with vegan fish sauce, which is not as smelly as original fish sauce made with anchovy. Otherwise, you can just use salt, but the taste might not be as rich as the chili sauce including fish sauce.
  • Brown sugar: All types of brown sugars are good to go with Hoi An Chili Sauce. If it’s not available, you can totally substitute granulated sugar for it.
  • Water, Shallot, Garlic, and Tomato: These common ingredients are irreplaceable and contribute significantly to the uniqueness of this chili sauce.

How to Make Hoi An Chili Sauce

Making Hoi An Chili Sauce is quite easy, but it will take some time to cook the sauce until it evaporates and thickens. A blender is necessary, or at least a pestle and mortar to grind the chilies. Let’s start:

Step 1. Preparation

  • Chilies and Tomatoes: Select fresh red chilies and wash them carefully. Next, boil a pot of water and quickly blanch the chilies for 2-3 minutes to reduce their sharp spiciness. Then, immediately transfer them to a bowl of cold water to retain their vibrant color. Finally, cut them vertically, remove all the seeds inside, and chop them into smaller pieces.
  • Garlic and Shallot: mince the shallots and garlic separately. Set them aside.
Hoi An Chili Sauce

Step 2. Blending Chilies

  • If you use a blender, blend the chilies, tomatoes, and ½ the amount of minced garlic with water until smooth. In case you don’t have a blender, grind the chilies, tomatoes, and garlic with a pestle and mortar, then add water after they are all ground.
Hoi An Chili Sauce

Step 3. Frying Minced Garlic & Shallot

  • In a pan, add annatto oil and heat it over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the minced shallot and the remaining minced garlic until they become golden and crispy. Set them aside.
Hoi An Chili Sauce

Step 4. Cooking Chilies Sauce

  •  This step can be done simultaneously with step 3. Transfer the blended mixture of chilies from step 2 to a pan. Cook it on low to medium heat and stir it regularly to prevent uneven cooking, which can lead to burning at the bottom of the sauce.

Step 5. Adding Fried Garlic & Shallot to the Sauce

  • When the sauce thickens enough, add the fried shallot & garlic to the sauce and mix well. In case the sauce doesn’t thicken enough, you can “cheat” by mixing ½ to 1 tsp of corn starch/tapioca starch with 1 tsp of water, then add it to the sauce and cook for 1 more minute. Turn off the heat.
Hoi An Chili Sauce

Step 6. Adding Roasted White Sesame

  • Roast some white sesame seeds. Usually, I roast a large batch of them and store them in a dry, airtight jar to use every time I need. Add 1-3 tsp of roasted sesame seeds to Hoi An Chili Sauce to complete it. Done!

Storing Hoi An Chili Sauce

It’s better to store the Chili sauce in the fridge for a longer shelf life. To preserve it for an extended period, place the cooled chili sauce in a glass jar and add a thin layer of cooking oil on top to prevent mold from forming. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a month. Always remember to use a clean spoon to take the sauce from its jar, not giving conditions for bacteria to develop.

Hoi An Chili Sauce

Hoi An Chili Sauce Recipe

Yield: 10
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Hoi An chili sauce is amazing: it had a harmonious spicy taste, rich but smooth texture, with crunchy fried garlic pieces in.

Ingredients

Instructions

Step 1. Preparation

  • Chilies and Tomatoes: Select fresh red chilies and wash them carefully. Next, boil a pot of water to quickly blanch them in 2-3 minutes to reduce the sharp spiciness of chilies. Then immediately transfer them to a bowl of cold water to keep the vibrant color of chilies. Finally, cut them vertically, remove all the seeds inside, then chop into smaller pieces.Hoi An Chili Sauce
  • Garlic and Shallot: mince shallot and garlic. Set them aside, separately.Hoi An Chili Sauce

Step 2. Blending Chilies

  • If you use a blender, mix chilies, tomatoes, ½ the amount of minced garlic and water to blend thoroughly. In case you don’t have a blender, grind chilies, tomatoes and garlic with pestle and mortar, then pour water in after all are ground.Hoi An Chili Sauce

Step 3. Frying Minced Garlic & Shallot

  • In a pan, add annatto oil and turn on medium heat. Once the oil boils, fry minced shallot and the remaining minced garlic until they become golden and crispy. Set them aside.Hoi An Chili Sauce

Step 4. Cooking Chilies Sauce

  •  This step can be proceeded parallelly with step 3. Transfer the blended mixture of chilies from step 2 to a pan. Cook it on low to medium heat and stir it regularly to prevent uneven cooking, which can lead to burning at the bottom of the sauce.Hoi An Chili Sauce

Step 5. Adding Fried Garlic & Shallot to the Sauce

  • When the sauce thickens enough, add fried shallot & garlic to the sauce and mix well. In case the sauce doesn’t thicken enough, you can “cheat” by mixing ½ to 1 tsp of corn starch/tapioca starch with 1 tsp of water, then add it to the sauce and cook for 1 minute more. Turn off the heat.Hoi An Chili Sauce

Step 6. Adding Roasted White Sesame

  • Roast some white sesame seeds. Usually, I roast a large batch of it and store in a dry, airtight jar to use every time I need. Add 1-3 tsp of roasted sesame to Hoi An Chili Sauce to complete it. Done!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 80g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 50

Did you make this recipe?

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2 Comments

  1. This was beautiful Admin. Thank you for your reflections.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement!

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