What comes to mind with the word Tropical? The very first thing I always think of is coconut. It’s the classic vision of a coconut tree on a tiny island. I wonder how discovering the fruit first happened. If it was from where one had split open after falling from the tree. Or was it curiosity? Anyway, when the Tropical Food theme for Sunday Supper was announced you can bet where my mind went first. Then I decided to do something different and tackle another item on my to-cook list at the same time. That’s how Thai Sweet Chili Sauce finally happened in my kitchen.
I’m a major fan of Thai food. I cook it occasionally and go out for it quite often. A red curry sauce made with coconut milk (yep there’s the coconut) is what I get more than anything else. Put that sauce over vegetables and top it with crispy duck and I’m a happy gal. However, it was not at a Thai restaurant where I got my craving for sweet chili sauce. It actually happened at a steak place. My husband ordered sweet/hot wings and guess what sauce was on those wings? One taste and I knew exactly what it was.
The adventure of making the sauce began. I have two Thai cookbooks and knew both would have recipes for this very popular sauce. You know what I found? Two very different recipes. Well, very different in the pepper part. One called for Thai peppers and the other dried red pepper flakes. I thought the Thai peppers would be a tad more authentic and so I decided to model my sauce after it. I made my list and headed to the store.
Three grocery stores later and no fresh Thai peppers. Not a single fresh hot red pepper of any kind. This meant a half hour drive to an Asian market. I knew for sure I would find some there. I was wrong, well, almost wrong. Thai pepper? Nope. Red finger pepper? Only one finger pepper in a giant pile was half green and half red. I grabbed it and put it in my basket. Red jalapeño peppers were in the next bin so I decided to get a bunch of those too. Then I headed to the dried pepper section and got a bag of red chili peppers.
Next to the dried peppers were pre-made sauces. I read the ingredients of eight different brands of Thai sweet chili sauce. They all had the same common ingredients; sugar, peppers, garlic, and vinegar. I felt I was on the right track so I went home and started cooking. The result? It turned out marvelously. It’s syrupy, sweet, sour, hot, and spicy too. Use it as a dipping sauce or baste for grilling meat or seafood.
My virtual trip to the tropics took me to Thailand. Scroll down to see a list of recipes either using tropical food or dishes found in tropical countries. Special thanks to Marlene of Nosh My Way and Cindy of Cindy’s Recipes and Writings for hosting this Sunday Supper event. For more Thai recipes, take a look at Thai Sticky Rice, Thai Noodle Salad with Shrimp, Spicy Thai Beef Salad, and Thai Shrimp Curry.
- 2 seeded and minced dried chili peppers
- 1 minced red finger chili
- 1 seeded and minced red jalapeño pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, or until mixture has reduced to about 1 cup. It will thicken as it cools.
- Cool to room temperature. Chill leftovers in a sealed container up to 3 months. Bring leftovers to room temperature prior to serving.
Recipe adapted from one in the Easy Thai Cooking cookbook (Amazon affiliate link).
Are you ready for a virtual culinary trip to the tropics? It’s easy to do with these recipes for tropical food by Sunday Supper tastemakers:
Appetizers and Tidbits
- Chicken and Lemongrass Sugarcane Skewers by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
- Coconut Crusted Tofu with Spicy Mango and Cucumber Topping by Soni’s Food
- Larp (Laos Chicken Salad) by Caroline’s Cooking
- Midwest Style Loco Moco by Our Good Life
- Tropical Sunrise Fruit Salad with Coconut Chia Cream by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Condiments and Sauces
- Cilantro Margarita by An Appealing Plan
- Coconut Mojito by Flour On My Face
- Pineapple Upside Down Cake Cocktail by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Strawberry Lava Flow by Nosh My Way
- Bali Spicy Grilled Fish – Ikan Bakar Jimbaran by Food Lust People Love
- Catibias o Cativias (Dominican Yucca Empanadas) by The Petit Gourmet
- Caribbean Black Beans with Rice by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Crockpot Hawaiian Pulled Pork by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
- Grilled Jerk Shrimp Roll with Tropical Fruit Slaw by Food Done Light
- Grilled Pineapple Prosciutto Arugula Pizza by Family Foodie
- Grilled Swordfish with Pineapple Salsa by Cooking Chat
- Kalua Pig by Palatable Pastime
- Mango Barbecued Pork Chops by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Mango Lime Fajitas by Curious Cuisiniere
- Pineapple Pork by Basic N Delicious
- Shrimp Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Slow Cooker Kalua Pork Tacos by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- Tropical Chicken Burgers by Momma’s Meals
- Whole Roasted Bream with a Ginger-Tamarind Sauce by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Double Ginger Cookies by Pies and Plots
- Majarete Ice Cream by Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Mini Mango Cheesecake by The Freshman Cook
- Pineapple Blueberry Ooey Gooey Butter Cake by Recipes Food and Cooking
- Pumpkin-Coconut Biscotti by What Smells So Good?
- Seven Layer Bars by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Tropical Fruit Salad by The Redhead Baker
- Tropical Layered Poke Cake by Daily Dish Recipes
- Tropical Sunshine Cake by Lifestyle Food Artistry
- Ube Panna Cotta by The Joyful Foodie
- Whole Wheat Mango Coconut Bars by Peanut Butter and Peppers
Tropical Recipes and Wine Pairings
- The Best Recipes for Tropical Food on the Sunday Supper Movement website
- The Best Wines to Pair with Tropical Food by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
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