Salsa picante

Salsa picante

A Year of Practiculture
750 ml
Rohan Anderson & Kate Berry

My interest in Spanish food came about as an adult interested in my mixed heritage; I wasn’t brought up with it. That hasn’t stopped me, though, and it has been and continues to be a great journey, learning about Mediterranean flavours and applying them to the food I grow, hunt or, dare I say, forage. When I travel off the highlands and down to the city, I often visit a Spanish grocery store in Fitzroy called Casa Iberica. It’s chock-full of spices, food and flavours from Spain and the Americas. I get a little giddy when I’m there. It’s almost like I’m in a daze, a kid in a candy store. But it’s not candy I’m interested in, it’s pimentón, chorizo, salamanca and salsa picante, or hot sauce. There are so many versions of this sauce to choose from, and I think I’ve tried most of them at one point or another. But the reality is that they travel a great distance to get to me, so I only buy them as a treat now. I’m not going without hot sauce, though, so I figured out how to make my own.

I do tend to overuse this type of sauce. It goes on my eggs and chorizo in the mornings, and then in a sandwich or salad for lunch, then most likely a little bit might find its way onto my dinner when appropriate. So in order to maintain my habit, I need to grow a lot of chilli. An entire side of my poly tunnel is dedicated solely to jalapeño. At the tail end of summer and into autumn I make my sauce, and lots of it. The salsa picante keeps well in the larder for months – in fact, it will last me until the jalapeños have returned to my garden. But be careful, sometimes the bottle can get a bit fermenty and will open like a bottle of champagne. We have salsa on our ceiling. You get the drift. Or spray.

My favourite types of salsa picante have a slightly smoky flavour and a good kick of heat. I get this from smoking some dried chilli and, of course, from the ever-faithful smoked pimentón.


Quantity Ingredient
2kg jalapeno chillies, chopped, seeds in
5 dried mulato chillies, soaked in 500 ml water overnight
5 dried chipotle chillies, soaked in 500 ml water overnight
4 onions, chopped
4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup smoked pimenton
125ml malt vinegar, plus extra to taste
100g brown sugar, plus extra to taste
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated, peeled and roughly chopped


  1. Pour all the chillies, including any soaking water, into a large saucepan. Add all the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for a few hours.
  2. Remove from the stove top, allow to cool a little, then process with a handheld blender until the sauce is uniform and runny.
  3. Taste the salsa when it’s cool, then add more sugar or vinegar if necessary.
  4. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into sterilised bottles, seal them, then boil them in a large pot of water for 20 minutes before storing. (Transfer the seeds and pulp from the sieve into a sterilised screw-top jar and top with olive oil. It’s great in cooking to add heat to a dish.)
  5. This is just the beginning. Now experiment with different spices and flavours to make your own version.
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