Chile Garlic Sauce ~ Nga Yoke Thee Achin

This chile garlic sauce, or nga yoke thee achin, is a classic Burmese condiment that you’re gonna find yourself wanting to put on everything.

A pot of chile garlic sauce with a ladle inside and two small jars partially filled with chile garlic sauce beside it.

A standard hot sauce on tables in Burma, this chile garlic sauce for every occasion is hot, tart, and a little sweet. If possible, make it at least a day before you first want to serve it.–Naomi Duguid

How do I use chile garlic sauce?

This hot Burmese chile garlic sauce also has notes of tart and sweet. The author, Naomi Duguid, reach for it whenever she’s eating rice or noodles, fried eggs, grilled meat, and almost anything savory that’s deep-fried. Once you have a stash of it in your refrigerator, you’ll never want to bother with store-bought Sriracha or other commercial hot sauces again.

Chile Garlic Sauce | Nga Yoke Thee Achin

A pot of chile garlic sauce with a ladle inside and two small jars partially filled with chile garlic sauce beside it.
This chile garlic sauce, or nga yoke thee achin, is a classic Burmese condiment that you’re gonna find yourself wanting to put on everything.

Prep 10 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 20 mins
28 servings | makes 1 3/4 cups
13 kcal
4.60 / 5 votes
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  • 1 cup tightly packed dried red chiles (just about any kind will work)
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar (or substitute cider vinegar)


  • Wearing gloves and being mindful not to touch your eyes (!), break the chiles in half, break off the stems, and rid the chiles of some or all of the seeds (there’s heat in them there seeds). Place the chile pieces in a small pot with the water. If your garlic is somewhat dried out and harsh tasting, add it now, too. 
  • Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until the chiles are softened and have swelled up a little. If your garlic is young and fresh, add it for the last minute of cooking. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  • In a food processor, carefully combine the cooled chiles, garlic, cooking liquid, fish sauce, and sugar and process or grind to a coarse paste. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula. Add the vinegar and process again. The sauce may seem sorta watery but that’s okay.
  • Transfer the sauce to a clean, dry glass jar and store in the refrigerator, preferably for at least a day before using and up to several weeks. (When you make the sauce, it will seem watery, but letting it settle for a day gives it time to thicken. It also allows the flavors to meld nicely.)
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 13kcal (1%)Carbohydrates: 3g (1%)Protein: 0.4g (1%)Fat: 0.05gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.02gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 187mg (8%)Potassium: 32mg (1%)Fiber: 0.1gSugar: 2g (2%)Vitamin A: 51IU (1%)Vitamin C: 8mg (10%)Calcium: 5mg (1%)Iron: 0.1mg (1%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Being a big fan of both Sriracha and fish sauce (how can something that smells so vile make food taste so good?), I had to try this chile sauce. Quick, easy, and delicious, it’s a definite keeper.

I’ve been putting it on all sorts of dishes—curry, chili that needed a little more heat, tacos—for the past few days. Lucky for me, the first time I used it was the same night I made a milkshake. Fortuitous combo. My “some-seeds” sauce was so blazingly hot, the milkshake was essential for a whole-mouth cool down. You all do know the perfect antidote to too much heat is a milkshake, right? But that’s another evaluation.

I had some fresh spring garlic and a package of dried chiles, plus vinegar and fish sauce, which are staples around here, so I was all set. I don’t know the exact type of chile; these sorts, which I purchase at Asian markets, are rarely labeled with anything in English other than “dried red chiles.” That’s probably why the recipe doesn’t specify. They’re little, dark red, and somewhat brittle. Oh, and full of seeds. Thinking myself perhaps more fireproof than I actually am, I followed the directions to remove “some” of those seeds. Next time I’ll remove them all. Other than that, the directions were perfect.

I used 12 cloves of garlic and part rice vinegar, part cider vinegar because that’s what I had on hand. The sauce thickens considerably on sitting.

This sauce was far too hot for my taste buds/mouth/throat. I used a combination of chipotle and chile de arbol peppers. It was hard to remove most of the seeds from the chile de arbols so the finished product did have some seeds. The timings provided in the recipe worked for me. I blended the final product in a blender, as I don’t have a food processor.

The immediate result was a fairly thick sauce that was VERY hot. As it was too hot for my taste, I gave it to some friends who think the more heat the better. They loved the sauce and kept on adding more to their fish dinner. One of them said that he’ll be replacing his Sriracha with this sauce.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! I bought a bag of sun-dried Thai chile peppers at the farmers’ market. They were the only dried red chile peppers that I could find there. If you haven’t seen Thai red chile peppers, you need to know that they’re very small. It took me 1 hour to cut off the stems, cut the peppers in half, and take out the seeds. (They didn’t break easily, so the only option was to cut them.) I wore gloves to do all of this. Nine cloves of garlic gave me the 1/4 cup called for in the recipe. It was easy enough to cook the Thai chile peppers, garlic, and water.

Then came grinding everything in the food processor. Warning: Don’t breathe in while you’re working with this mixture. Don’t breathe in while you’re trying to get the mixture into a clean glass jar. Don’t breathe in while you’re washing the food processor. Wow! This is some spicy sauce!

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens after the flavors meld for a day or two in the refrigerator. I did take a little taste after processing it [cough, cough!]. However, I’ve a feeling that this is going to be one good sauce. My only question is whether or not it’s a bit too liquidy. I need to wait and see how it sets up, if indeed it does. I could possibly cook it down and see if it’ll thicken a bit. I’ll taste it tomorrow and go from there.

I bought Shanliren dried chiles from the local Asian market. I ID’d these as Chinese Tien Tsin peppers on the Penzeys Spices Web site. I decided to rinse them before working with them, which was probably not necessary, but what the heck? What is necessary is proper ventilation while working with the chiles! I coughed for an hour afterward because I neglected to open a window.

I started out cutting the chiles open with kitchen shears, but it’s actually much easier to get the seeds out if you kind of twist them to break them open. I cooked the chiles for about 5 minutes, with the garlic added for the last minute of cooking. I used most of a small head of garlic to get 1/4 cup chopped. I’d prefer a bit less of the fish sauce, as it has a rather strong flavor and it was fairly apparent in the finished sauce. The sauce is quite thin at first, but thickens a bit by the next day. It’s not much like Sriracha (which I believe is made with fresh chiles), but it’s a nice sweet and pungent addition to whatever you might put Sriracha on (for me, that’s almost everything!).

Hot, sour, just a bit sweet, with extra depth added by the fish sauce…this hot sauce has it all. Toss it with noodles, drizzle it on salad, dip a spring roll into it. Good stuff. The author is giving you free rein on your choice of chiles. This is where you can customize the sauce to your taste. I used mostly Chinese Tien Tsin chiles with a few anonymous red chiles from my CSA (probably cayenne) and 2 cascabels for a richer flavor. It’d be fun to play with the mix. I think it’d be neat to include a couple chipotles or moritas for a smoky touch.

My only gripe with the recipe is the use of a food processor to blend the sauce. There’s quite a bit of liquid in this, and even in my high-capacity, supposedly leakproof food processor, some of the liquid sprayed out. Fish sauce, while great in food, is smelly stuff, and you don’t want it splattered across your kitchen. My advice: Use a blender. It’ll do a better job of mixing the sauce, and of keeping the liquids contained.


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  1. 4 stars
    This is an awesome recipe! We used Thai Bird chili’s and it turned out great! Spicy, tangy and sweet all at the same time. Good bye store-bought sauce!

    1. Courtney, nothing is going to be quite like the complex flavor of fish sauce, although there are vegan and vegetarian substitutions that approximate the salty, hard-to-describe taste. Care to take a look at this list of simple ingredient substitutions? There’s also this DIY recipe substitute that seems quite promising. Whichever you choose, our fingers are crossed…

  2. 5 stars
    Deeee…lish! I thought about using the Thai red chiles…but I know from experience that they can blow your head off. I just used some ole dried red chile, an Anaheim probably. “Chile Colorado.” Little bit of heat, not too much. Do hold your hand over the food processor funnel deal as you are processing. Your palm will be stained but your kitchen won’t. My sauce is a bit thin—I might add more chiles next time to make thicker. But is this some good sauce! Really, really good.

    1. Deeee…lightful to hear, Kathleen! Many thanks, we so appreciate you taking the time to write. And we love that tip about holding one’s hand over the opening—so true! Curious to hear if your sauce was still a touch thin even after it had sat for a day or so? And, of course, curious to hear what you’re dribbling and drizzling it over….

      1. 5 stars
        Made this wonderful sauce today for the second time, the first batch having disappeared within 3 days! I love this sauce. Today I used a few more chiles but the same quantities of everything else and it turned out a bit thicker, which is what I wanted. (I thought the sauce the first time out started thin and stayed thin.) Today I used a dried chile from southern Colorado and the sauce turned out the most beautiful dark russet color. I used maybe 5 or 6 mild chile and 3 hot chiles and it was just right. This time I processed everything in the blender, a technique that I like because it usually purees the chilies more, leaving you with a sauce without the “bits” of the chile in it. Cleanup is not as easy as with the food processor, but the results seem better to me. Tomorrow we are having “Sangria, Skewers, and Sauces” for a little dinner party and this will be one of my sauces. The last batch of sauce I drizzled and drazzled on rice, salmon, cod, beef, shrimp, cottage cheese, avocado, and little fingerling potatoes.

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