Sweet and Spicy Sauce

It all started when I ordered some barbecue and simmering sauces from Williams-Sonoma, in anticipation of surgeries on both hands this year. Typically I make everything from scratch, but I was unable to do much in the kitchen for about 4 months total.

One of the sauces I purchased was Roy Choi’s Sweet and Spicy sauce. It was to die for, and I’m not typically enamored by prepared sauces. They’re typically too sweet for me.

However, this sauce had the perfect balance, but when I wanted to buy more, they were sold out. So then I googled Roy Choi, and bought one of his cookbooks, L. A. Son, published in 2013, and discovered the exact sauce in his cookbook!

It had to be the same sauce because of the main components, described as “a vibrant mix of sweet chile sauce, sesame, garlic and citrus.“

I especially loved what was written by Mr. Choi regarding this recipe: “I’ve always loved the sauces in life more than the food – maybe that’s why I cook the way I do.” He suggests drowning your chicken or shrimp in this sauce.

After my first surgery, my husband grilled drumsticks for me, because they were something I could eat with one hand, and I seriously drowned them in the jarred sweet and spicy sauce. Until it was all gone, that is. So when I made this sauce from scratch, I again cooked up some chicken legs.

The fun thing about making this recipe is that I ordered and used fresh galangal for the first time. Yay Amazon!

What is interesting about this sauce is that it’s blended raw.

The cookbook reminds me so much of Guerilla Tacos author, Wesley Avila, who’s a tattooed Mexican American, and Roy Choi is a tattooed Korean American. Both books contain the best bittersweet and hysterically funny stories of their rise to success. Both live in Los Angeles, California, and have had food taco trucks!

That’s So Sweet

(that what Roy call this sauce!)
Makes about 4 cups

1 – 25 ounce bottle Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Serrano chiles, chopped, seeds and all
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Sriracha
3/4 white or yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup fresh Thai basil leaves (I used regular basil)
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2/3 dried Anaheim chile, chopped
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped peeled ginger
2/3 cup chopped scallions
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kochukaru (gochugaru)
2/3 cup natural rice vinegar
1 teaspoon peeled galangal

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender.

Blend everything until it’s all smooth.

Use liberally on whatever you got cooking for dinner – chicken, shrimp, everything – and pack the rest in Tupperware. It’ll store in the fridge for 2 weeks.

I actually strained the sauce first because I don’t like biting down on chile pepper seeds.

And for old time’s sake, I tried the sauce with drumsticks.

And the verdict? Absolutely wonderful. It has to be the same sauce. The flavor was outstanding – sweet and spicy.

When I first removed the lid from the blender jar, my nose was burning from the chile peppers. So I covered it and refrigerated the sauce for 24 hours. The color actually deepened, and I’m not sure if the flavors mellowed or not, since I didn’t taste it right away. But it’s so good. I’ll be making this again for a mixed grill dinner!

And seriously, if you’re fascinating with chefs’ biographies, as well as great recipes, read Roy Choi’s and Wesley Avila’s books. For an example, Roy Choi ended up externing with Eric Ripert – by accident!

43 thoughts on “Sweet and Spicy Sauce

  • The sauce sounds wonderful, thank you for sharing it with us. I love making homemade sauces too, you don’t need the preservatives in it, so much better. One of our East Coast Chefs, Michael Smith, mentioned years ago that he keeps ginger (galangal too) in the freezer, peel and all (I usually give it a scrub before I freeze in a ziplock bag). Then you have ginger at all times, just grate it on a microplane, the peel becomes insignificant.
    BTW, your blog doesn’t have mobile view turned on, it automatically converts it to mobile view which makes it much easier for those of us on our phones instead of computers.

    • Okay. First, great idea about freezing ginger and galangal. I threw the rest away because I had no recipes that I could make with the remaining galangal. Secondly, you’re welcome. If you make this sauce, you will be amazed at how wonderfully layered it is with the spicy ness and freshness combined. Thirdly, I have no idea about mobile view, but will go try to figure it out. Thanks!

  • Sounds like my kind of sauce. I’m impressed you could source all the ingredients. I fear I wouldn’t find a few of the need components just now. So, I’m pinning it to make after CvVD (COVID vaccination day), when ever that happens.
    When we lived in the US we used to always buy Williams and Sonoma’s jarred turkey gravy. It was great…

    • Oh really? I’ve never experimented, only because I’m so Stepford wife about making every damn thing from scratch. But I’m relaxing a bit after this last year. I even installed a jar opener that is under a cupboard so that I can open the jars! It’s fun being old 😬

  • With all those ingredients your sauce has to be good! The spicier the better for me… Love your serving pieces as they make the chicken and sauce really stand out. Ouch – what did you do to your hands – carpal tunnel?

    • It’s so good I can’t even tell you. I had thumb arthritis, so a bone was removed in both thumbs. Then they do a weird thing that I won’t even tell you about. Tough recovery, but mostly out of pain. I felt like I lost a year, but it’s almost over.

  • Sauce sounds lovely. Would it keep longer if it was cooked?
    For you to have been able to buy it originally it must have had some cooking done to it?
    I know you would lose the ‘fresh’ flavour and it would possibly mellow but it would be nice to be able to bottle it and not have to use it within a couple of weeks.
    Great recipe again Mimi, thanks! :))

  • This sweet and spicy sauce has everything going for it. I know that many people may take a look at the long list of ingredients and be weary. However, I looked at the list and have everything in stock. We usually get to the Asian provision store frequently and freeze galangal, etc. I bet this sauce is a delightful flavor explosion.

    • I’m really kicking myself for not freezing the galangal. I just wasn’t prepared to adjust my planned menus and upcoming blog post dishes. Dumb. It is a long list of ingredients, but so worth the effort!

    • Well, it is, but it’s so balanced with the sweet. Pretty amazing. This guy knows what he’s doing. He interned with Eric Rupert after culinary school. He’s not just a food truck guy! I would start with half of the chile peppers.

    • You don’t have to use the Sriracha, because obviously that’s something that can be added later. All I can tell you is that somehow it works!

  • we love gochugaru in this house, and i always buy 2 packets at once. as hubby says, not much heat but nice flavour. i like the sound of this sauce; plenty of great flavours. i bought a bottle of pineapple chilli sauce the other day, and i plan to make a version at christmas. sounds so good!

    • Pineapple chile sauce sounds wonderful! (Sorry, not correcting you, but we spell it chile and others spell it chili and chili!) I remember years ago it was so confusing for me because we also have something called chili!

    • It’s a work in progress, but thanks. Love this sauce! And yes, thanks, I am at about 80% with my hands and loving it!

    • Yes, just still doing exercises. Thanks for asking. I’ve had to learn to compromise, but I have learned about some good products. Like now I’ll always have this specific garlic-infused oil around because even though I can now peel garlic and chop it, it’s something I really dislike doing! And there are actually some good red sauces out there as well. But everything from scratch is always better.

  • A good sauce is worth its weight in gold – it can take a meal from average to amazing in a heartbeat! As Neil noted, I do hope the hand surgeries are healing well – that sounds like a tough one. Back to this sauce, though, I’m thinking it would be really good drizzled on tacos!

    • We were just talking about that last night with friends who were tasting it. One said fish tacos. It’s pretty strong, but then, it’s so well balanced also. I could just drink it. My husband was putting it on crackers!

  • I agree that foods need to be drowned in sauces! I don’t ascribe to “a little dab with do ya.” The ingredient list for this sauce looks incredible. On another note, I hope you are healing well. I cannot imagine having surgery on both hands in the same year.

    • Thanks. It as so necessary, and I was delayed because of the pandemic, which was upsetting. But all over now and recovering! Thumbs come in handy!!!

  • Wowza, Mimi, this sounds great! We buy the big jug of Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce regularly, but this sounds so much better! Love a goid blender sauce!!!

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