Sweet chili sauce

I remember salivating when I saw the celebrated New Zealand chef Peter Gordon prepare this wonderful sauce on a TV show in Britain. At the time he owned a London restaurant called The Sugar Club. I immediately made a reservation. I had to taste this. He served it over seared scallops with crème fraiche on a bed of leaves. It remains one of my greatest gastro moments.

Of course when I tried it at home I couldn’t get anything like the subtlety of his sauce. But it wasn’t bad. In fact it was pretty good.


  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 4 large red chilies, roughly chopped
  • 3 thumbs of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 thumb of galangal, roughly chopped
  • 8 lime leaves
  • 3 lemon-grass stems (finely sliced after the outer layer is removed)
  • 1 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 100ml (3oz) cider vinegar
  • 50ml (1.5oz) Asian fish sauce
  • 50ml (1.5oz) tamari


  • Food processor
  • Heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • Large wooden spoon


  1. Place the garlic, chilies, ginger, galangal, lime leaves, and coriander into a food processor and blitz to a coarse paste. Don’t allow it to get too pureed. You want to see lovely specs of red chili and flashes of green coriander.
  2. Into a pan, place the sugar along with 4 tablespoons of water. Over a moderate heat, stir continuously until the sugar dissolves. Remove the spoon and increase the heat so that the mixture boils for around 5 minutes (or a little longer). It is important not to stir during this time (this will cause sugar crystals to form up the side of the pan). Keep watching though. Don’t let the syrup burn.
  3. When it turns a gorgeous nut brown colour, stir in the paste. Warning: splashes from the pan will burn through your skin in no time, so take extra care when incorporating the paste.
  4. Bring the sauce back to the boil and add the vinegar, fish sauce and tamari. Simmer for a minute, remove from the heat and cool before eating.

What you should know

Have a clean, glass jar ready to store the sauce. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few months, but it definitely won’t last that long. I eat it with everything!

Re: Sweet chili sauce

Re: Sweet chili sauce

What else would you serve this on? I am allergic to scallops and shellfish.

Re: Sweet chili sauce

I keep a jar of this in my fridge most of the time. It lasts well and tastes great on just about everything.

A good friend of mine uses this as a relish on all meat products.

I love it will some feisty cheese (a sharp cheddar, for instance).

It’s great dolloped on to just about anything, frankly.