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Portuguese Piri-Piri Hot Sauce

The torrid piri-piri pepper, known as peri-peri in Africa, has been a staple of the Portuguese table since the Age of Discovery beginning in the 14th century. After Columbus brought the fiery fruit back to the continent from the New World in 1493, it was the Portuguese who carried it throughout the globe. In fact, the chile, including relatives of the African piri-piri peppers, has become so ubiquitous, it’s put to use in more than one-quarters of the world’s cuisines. This sauce, found everywhere in Portugal and several of its former colonies, specifically Angola and Mozambique–is a must-slather on any kind of poultry, pork ribs, and shrimp.–David Leite

LC Stepping In For Piri-Piri Peppers Note

Uh, the only trick is, you won’t find fresh piri-piri peppers stateside. Stepping in for piri-piri peppers are Thai bird, red jalapeño, santaka, arbol, cayenne, or Tabasco, depending on availability as well as personal heat preference and tolerance. You can find dried piri-piri peppers. They pack a wallop, so experiment with the amounts so that you get the sauce you deserve.

For those concerned about the health risks of allowing raw garlic to steep in olive oil, Shirley O. Corriher, food scientist and author of Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking, says that due to the sauce’s high acidity, there’s no problem. In fact, she added: “I’d be tempted to eat it myself.”

Portuguese Piri-Piri Hot Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 4 to 8 fresh hot chiles, depending on the heat (see LC Note above)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 to 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, depending on how thin you want it

Directions

  • 1. Coarsely chop the peppers and discard stems.
  • 2. Place the chiles and their seeds, the garlic, lemon juice, salt, and as much of the oil as you wish in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and purée. Pour the mixture into a small glass jar and let steep for several days in the fridge.
  • 3. You can strain the mixture and return it to jar, but I like mine with a bit of texture. Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 1 month.