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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tương Ớt Tỏi (Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce)

When fall arrives, our garden looks so luscious with many variety of tomatoes, bell peppers, chayote (xu), bitter melons, eggplants, and much more...But what stand out the most are the beautiful chili pepper plants. 

We usually start harvesting our chili peppers in October and throughout the November month. In the past we used to freeze them and cook them whole in dishes such as cá kho (fish clay pot), thịt kho (caramelized braised pork), or when we make fish soups to reduce the fishy smell and spice up the flavor. We also stored some in the fridge to enjoy with each meal. We dried them and make chili powder. We packaged the remainder in ziploc bags and shared them with our families, friends and our neighbors. 

This season I decided to try my hands at making chili garlic sauce. It was so much fun and easier than I expected; it was spicy indeed, just the way we love it!

It's part of our culture, and a meal without some sort of spicy chili sauce would just be too bland. My chili sauce is super hot, but its tone is gentle and not sharp. This is achieved through the use of tomato paste and vinegar to reduce the spiciness. If you can't tolerate super hot chili sauce, you can use the combination of Thai chili with tomato or habanero or serrano peppers or jalapeno to reduce the spiciness. 

The beautiful vivid orange and red colors of the chili peppers remind me of this season's colors. So my husband and I made a basket of jarred chili garlic sauce to give thanks to our family members and friends during this holiday season. My husband added a nice touch to the jars with those nice straw bows which I tried but can never make it look nice enough.

RECIPE: Tương Ớt Tỏi


1 pound fresh Thai chilies, washed and removed stems
6 cloves garlic 
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar 
1 teaspoon salt 
3 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup fresh ripe Tomato Paste (about 3 Roma tomatoes, peeled and seeded)

Making Tomato Paste 

Place a pot with water over high heat and bring it to a boil.  Lower the tomatoes into the water gently and leave them there for 1 minute. 

Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water.  Set the tomatoes aside until they're cool down.  Peel the skin off then cut the peeled tomatoes in half.  Gently squeeze tomato to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds.

Put these peeled tomatoes in a food processor or blender and process until coarsely pureed. Set it aside.

Making Chili Paste

Place chilies, garlic, vinegar, salt and sugar in a food processor or blender and process to a coarse pureed.

Transfer chili paste and tomato paste to a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator.



  1. Thank you for posting this. Tuong ot toi is my favorite! I add it to almost everything.

  2. Thanks for checking out my blog. I stopped by your blog and saw your aunt's sponge cake recipe. I love sponge cake and have tried a few times and failed. Will definitely try your recipe. Thx. Annette

  3. Can i use any Red Chili? I don't know where to purchase Thai chili from?

    1. You can use any red chili. Adding tomato is optional. If your red chili isn't as spicy as other types of chili, you don't need to add tomato.