Saturday, August 29, 2009

Roasted Chili Paste

1/2 cup small dried red chilies such as chiles de Arbol
or chiles japones (about 32), stemmed, halved crosswise
and loosely packed, about 1/2 ounce
A generous 1/2 cup unpeeled shallots, cut lengthwise
into chunks, about 3 ounces
1/4 cup unpeeled garlic cloves (8 to 10 large cloves), about 1-1/2 ounces
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
*3 tablespoons Tamarind Liquid: optional

In a wok or a small, heavy skillet, dry-fry the chilies over medium-low heat until they darken and become fragrant and brittle, 3 to 5 minutes. Shake the pan and stir frequently as they roast. Remove from the heat and transfer to a plate to cool.

Increase the heat to medium and dry-fry the shallots and garlic, turning them occasionally, until they are softened, wilted, and blistered, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to the plate to cool.

Stem the chilies and shake out and discard most of the seeds. Crumble the chilies into small pieces. Trim the shallots and garlic, discarding the peel and root ends, and chop coarsely. Combine the chilies, shallots, and garlic in a mini processor or blender and pulse to a coarse paste, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Add 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil and grind to a fairly smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Pour the remaining 1/4 cup oil into the wok or a skillet. Place over medium heat until a bit of the paste added to the pan sizzles at once, about 1 minute. Add the ground chili paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the paste gradually darkens and releases a rich fragrance, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Combine the sugar, tamarind, soy sauce, and salt in a small bowl and stir well. Add this mixture to the cooled chili paste and stir to combine. The paste will be quite oily, and must be well stirred before each use. Transfer to a jar, cap tightly, and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Use at room temperature in recipes or as a condiment.

Makes about 1-1/4 cups.

(can make tamarind liquid by combining tamarind paste and water)

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