This morning at the market started like most; an early dazed stroll about the booths with a lot of head scratching. I've had a lot of enjoyment with chili pastes lately (eg using harissa to make a compound butter for roast chicken), so figured this would be a fine time to try making my own condiment. At the very least this would secure me from having any bland meal in the future.
The farmers didn't label any of their peppers, but promised they all shared a spicy genus. I didn't see this as a problem since there are so many different chili pastes. There are over 300 different varieties just in Indonesia; so no one can give me much grief about authenticity. This will just be another variety to add to the chili paste census.
To begin, I finely diced all of the peppers. A blender would have been nice, as would a mortar and pestle, but the kitchen lay in purgatory between electric devices of the future and crude flinstonian tools of old. To help grind everything down, after the finest of chopping, I sprinkled coarse salt over the peppers and used the flat of my knife for further processing.
After integrating the peppers with vinegar and lime juice, I decided a thickener and sweet element was needed. Sambal kacang is a classic chili paste that contains sugar and fried peanuts, so I decided to mix in honey roasted salted peanuts to solve my problem, as I could easily turn the peanuts to a powder despite my apparatus handicap.
The raw mixture is brutal as is. To finish, fry the mixture in a little bit of oil in a non-stick pan for 10 minutes. This will help to soften and break down the components, as well as integrate them further. Let the mixture cool, and it will keep for a long time, which is nice since a little goes a long way. The dish cleans up well with some crushed peanut and cilantro garnishes, but is plenty enjoyable on its own.