When my friend invited me to her wedding in St. Thomas four years ago, I had no idea that this weekend trip would send me into one of the most incredible street food experiences of my life. Just a few blocks north of the downtown cruise ship, you find some of the most friendly locals and fantastic street foods you’ll ever taste. One of the best things to hit my taste buds that weekend was the Caribbean-style hot sauce or as locals called it, “pepper sauce.” I took six bottles of local hot sauce home in my suitcase that weekend.
After finishing off our bottles of hot sauce, I wanted more. So, I learned how to make Caribbean-style hot sauce myself. I even learned how to grow Caribbean hot peppers!
While traveling, you go through the experience of witnessing and immersing yourself in other cultures. Food is a vital piece of peoples’ culture. Through food, you experience the hospitality and kindness of diverse groups of people and the Caribbean is no exception.
Pepper sauce, or Caribbean hot sauce, is a part of every meal in the Caribbean, and every family has a unique twist on making their hot sauce.
Making Caribbean-Style Hot Sauce at Home
In the dead heat of summer, when the peppers are popping in my garden, I gather all the ingredients and make a batch of Caribbean-style hot sauce. The only thing missing is a St. Thomas original cocktail, the painkiller.
A few notes on Caribbean-style Hot Sauce:
This style of hot sauce is a thick hot sauce. The recipe calls for fruit, veggies, and herbs that make a thick, sweet, and savory hot sauce that. I throw this stuff on eggs, sandwiches, chicken, beef, pork. When I have some in the fridge, it comes out at almost every meal!
The key to the unique flavor of this hot sauce is the peppers. Scotch Bonnet peppers are a delicious and spicy hot pepper that adds a slightly sweet, slightly smoke heat to your recipes. They are difficult to find outside of the Caribbean.
I’ve learned how to grow my own Scotch Bonnet peppers (more on that in a different post). Habanero peppers are an excellent replacement for scotch bonnet peppers.
- 20 Scotch Bonnet Peppers (or Habanero peppers). Leave them whole for a hotter sauce, remove the seeds for less heat. *Wear Gloves when removing seeds*
- 1-1.5 cups of high-quality white wine vinegar.
- One bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped. *In the Caribbean, they use an herb called Shado Beni. It’s similar to cilantro, but Shado Beni has a stronger flavor. Shado Beni isn’t easy to grow. BUT I have found this herb at local Asian and Mexican grocery stores. If you can find it, it will elevate the flavors in your hot sauce!
- One head of garlic, peeled. (Seriously, all the garlic.)
- One bunch of green onions, chopped.
- One ripe papaya, roughly chopped. *You may want to wear gloves when peeling and chopping papaya. It can stain your hands.*
- One teaspoon of salt.
- Juice from two limes. Optional, but delicious.
*I usually add way more cilantro if I’m using cilantro instead of Shado Beni.*
- Combine all of the ingredients above in your blender or food processor. If you want a smoother sauce, go for the blender.
- You can taste your sauce now, but the real magic happens after several hours in the fridge.
- Pour your sauce into a mason jar or airtight container and refrigerate. This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month, but I promise it won’t be around that long.
There is nothing better than the authentic stuff while sitting in front of the Caribbean’s clear blue waters. If you’re missing the flavors of the Caribbean, this hot sauce is an excellent substitute.
Enjoy this hot sauce on virtually any food as a delicious and spicy condiment.
For more info on learning how to make hot sauce, check out this post here!