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Piri Piri Sauce

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Type: Dressings

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      03.06.2008 17:17
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      A little bit of sauce that gives a big flavour

      Piri Piri sauce is something I have used in my kitchen for over 15 years. We are never without it as it goes in everything and on top of everything - a bit like HP sauce. My husbands taste buds are very dull and he has to lash lots of olive oil and piri piri on all his meals. Some would say that's a shame after I have gone to all the trouble of cooking a meal but over the years I have learned to live with it.

      We started using piri piri when we lived in Portugal. In the early days you could buy it in small glass pots with a small feather. The feather was for spreading the sauce on the chicken and in some restaurants in the hills of Monchique they will give you this and not a manufactured brand. The old style piri piri was more of a homemade sauce - thick in consistency with whole chillies and seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt and herbs. Nowadays it is manufactured on a big scale and there are at least 3 or 4 different brands that I can recall. My favourite brand is Jeronimos but Nando's ( the same company who own chicken restaurants in UK and name it peri peri which I will explain why later), AJ's, Quinta d' Avo, Ferbar and ..........are other brands also. I say Jeronomos is the best as I think it is more like the old style sauce. I haven't seen it in shops in the UK so I always ask family to bring lots of bottles back when they comeback from Portugal.

      So what is piri piri and how is the sauce made?

      Piri piri is the name given to the bird's eye chilli which is grown wild and cultivated in Mozambique. It is also known as African devil or African red Devil. The plants are generally small and bushy and the peppers which are the fruit are long and tapered at the end.

      There are variations of the spelling and pronounciation depending in which parts of africa the word is being used. Piri Piri is the name and correct spelling used in Portugal although as I mentioned above Nando's use the spelling peri peri. This is because Nando's were formed in South Africa by portuguese who had left Mozambique after independence. In northern Brazil where portuguese is spoken this birds eye pepper is called malagueta.

      To make the sauce you will need birds eye chillies, lemon juice, cloves of garlic, fresh parsley or coriander, paprika, olive oil and salt. You can remove the seeds of the peppers but I usually don't as it gives it a better taste. You mix all this together into a paste with a processor or blender and cook in a hot pan for a few minutes. Pour into a clean jar and leave to stand for a week or longer. If you prefer the sauce to be very hot then add more cayenne pepper or birds eye peppers.

      I use the sauce in casseroles and stews, risottos, any vegetarian dish to spice it up a bit, of course it is used to coat chicken and fish before barbecueing, and my favourite dish of all is piri-piri prawns where you cook prawns in a pan of garlic butter until they turn pink and then add the sauce over the prawns. It is delicious.

      Although it is a hot spicy sauce it isn't like other west Indian sauces which are just hot in my view. It has a subtle taste of garlic and lemon. If you like hot, sauces you will love this as it is the best. Every kitchen should at least have one bottle.

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      Some like it hot and some like it hotter. Share your recipes for piri piri sauce here.