By Chris De La Rosa
Basically, we don’t have much or a pickling culture. The exception being, peppers! The variety of pepper sauces (anything fiery with the abundance and variety of our lovely HOT peppers we have) and oils will blow you away.
In this recipe I’m trying my best to recall my grandmother’s version and pay tribute to her by using a classic food mill as she would.
1 lb bird’s eye peppers
5 shado beni (culantro)
3/4 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of parsley
10-15 cloves of garlic
1-1/2 – 2 cups of olive oil
Wash the peppers, remove the stems and allow them to air-dry, because we don’t want water in the finished oil, as it will decrease its shelf life. Wash and chop the scallions, parsley and shado beni, and also allow to them dry a bit, or use paper towels to dry them, before rough-chopping. This will make it easier for the food processor or food mill you’ll be using, shortly.
Basically, all you have to do now is to ‘grind’ it. I used a traditional food mill like my grandma would use, but you can certainly use a food processor or blender. You’ll want an outcome that’s a bit chunky. Watch the video below, to see how I used the food mill.
You have to make sure that everything is ground into tiny bits, but NOT pureed, as you want the finished pepper oil to have some texture. Yes, I do include the seeds of the peppers and, if you wanted to give this finished pepper oil more of a kick, you can add some Caribbean sunshine (scotch bonnet pepper) to the mix.
Scrape it all into a sauce pan, followed by the olive oil and salt. Mix well and cook on a very low heat, so you’ll have a gentle simmer. Remember to open the windows in your kitchen and turn on the exhaust fan above your stove, if you have one. Cook for about 45-60 minutes.
The goal is to make sure you burn off any water and to enhance the flavors of the ingredients used. It will go darker and the oil itself will take on a reddish hue. Allow it to cool, before putting into glass containers (with a lid). Make sure the oil covers the peppers, as it will help to preserve it’s wonderful flavor and prevent it from going bad easily.
According to my dad, my great-grandmother would do something similar, but she would use a massive mortar and pestle (one like my family would use for crushing cocoa and coffee beans) to crush her peppers and garlic, and she wouldn’t use scallions.
IMPORTANT! Use gloves when handling such hot peppers, and be sure to wash your hands, immediately after, with soap and water.
This recipe is courtesy of Gourmand Award-winning cookbook author and founder of CaribbeanPot.com, Chris De La Rosa. With over 450 printable recipes, with step by step cooking instructions and demo videos, PLUS over 1 million social/fan connections, globally, every month, CaribbeanPot.com is the world’s #1 resource for Caribbean Culinary Culture. Connect with Chis on Instagram: www.instagram.com/caribbeanpot/.