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How To Make Fermented Jalapeño Hot Sauce

Sqirl is one of the hottest restaurants in Los Angeles right now. This sauce might have a little something to do with that.

On the menu at Sqirl, there is a crispy rice bowl that is ridiculously delicious.

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We had chef Jessica Koslow come to the BuzzFeed Test Kitchen and show us how to make it. Get the recipe.

One of the key ingredients in the rice bowl is this hot sauce. It's spicy and tangy with just a little bit of funk.

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It takes four weeks to make, but it's actually pretty simple.

1. Cut the tops off of a pound of jalapeños.

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2. Cut the jalapeños in half, lengthwise.

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3. Scrape the seeds into the trash.

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Way. Too. Spicy. No thanks.

4. Slice the halved, deseeded jalapeños into rough 1/2-inch pieces.

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5. Put the sliced, seeded jalapeños in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, and blend.

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6. Process until the jalapeños are blended but still a little chunky.

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7. Now, MATH! Weigh your blended jalapeños on a kitchen scale. However much they weigh, multiply that number by .075. That’s how much kosher salt you need. So, you’re adding 7.5% salt, by weight.

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Say you have one pound of jalapeños. That’s 454 grams.

454g jalapeños x .075 = 34g kosher salt

So, you’d weight out 34 grams of kosher salt and add it to one pound of blended jalapeños. It’ll seem like a lot, but don’t worry.

8. Mix the salt and jalapeños together with a spatula, then pour the mixture into a very clean glass jar.

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It’s going to sit in this jar for 4 weeks, so it’s really important that it’s clean. But don’t worry, you don’t have to sterilize it.

9. Then make a 7.5% salt brine, using the same ratio of salt to water that you used for the kosher salt in the jalapeño mash. Put the brine in a ziploc bag.

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Say you have 2 cups of water. 2 cups = 500ml. 500ml water = 500g water.

500g x .075 = 37.5g kosher salt.

10. Seal the bag, then put it on top of the jalapeño mash. Make sure the bag is covering the jalapeño mash completely.

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11. NO air can get into the jalapeño mixture. There can be NO gaps between the bag and the jalapeños.

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The point of doing this is to make an airtight seal. Hopefully, the bag won’t break and the jalapeños will never touch the salt brine. But, if the bag rips, it’s not a big deal since both the brine and the jalapeños are 7.5% salt. Cool, right?

12. Label and date the jar, then let it sit in a dark corner for 4 weeks.

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13. After 4 weeks, the mixture will be fermented. Remove the brine bag and throw it away.

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14. Put the fermented mash in a stainless steel pot over high heat. Add 1 cup of white vinegar.

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1 cup, assuming that you started with 1 pound of jalapeño mash.

15. Bring the mixture to a boil.

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16. Then, pour it into a blender and puree. You'll probably want to do this in two batches.

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You don't want to fill the blender more than about 1/3 of the way, since the mixture is hot and there will be lots of steam.

The finished hot sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for at least six months.

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Although it'll probably take you way less time than that to finish it all.

Fermented Jalapeño Hot Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

Recipe by Jessica Koslow


1 pound jalapeño peppers

34g kosher salt*

1 cup white vinegar

*NOTE: the fermented mash mixture needs to be exactly 7.5% salt. So, after you've cut, de-seeded, and blended the jalapeños, you should weigh that mixture, then use this equation to figure out how much kosher salt to add:

Weight of blended jalapeños x 0.075 = Weight of kosher salt


1. Cut the tops off of the jalapeños, then slice each one in half. Remove and discard the seeds. Cut the jalapeños into rough, half-inch slices.

2. Put the sliced jalapeños in a food processor and purée until the mixture is blended but still a little bit chunky. Add the kosher salt and pulse just to mix in the salt. Transfer the mixture to a large, clean glass jar.

3. Make a salt brine in a ziploc bag: You want the brine to also be 7.5% salt, in case the bag breaks and mixes with the fermenting jalapeño mash. Add 2 cups of water to a ziploc bag, then add 37.5g kosher salt. Get as much air out of the bag as possible, then seal it.

4. Put the sealed brine bag on top of the jalapeño mash. Make sure the bag is covering the mixture completely, so that no air can get into the jalapeño mixture. Label and date the jar, then let it sit in a dark, cool corner for 4 weeks.

5. After 4 weeks, put the fermented mixture in a stainless steel pot over high heat. Add 1 cup of white vinegar per pound of fermented jalapeños and bring to a simmer. Transfer the mixture to blender or food processor (in batches, if you need to), then purée until it's a thin, uniform liquid.

6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The hot sauce will keep for at least 6 months.

Get the recipe for Sqirl's crispy rice bowl here.

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