An incredibly popular, traditional Hawaiian condiment or hot sauce made with water, vinegar, and spicy chili peppers. Here is the recipe to make some at home.
Readers and visitors to Chili Pepper Madness send me recipes and ideas for content all the time. Mostly I get emails asking to identify a pepper from a photo that someone grew in their garden - glad to help! - or asking questions about a particular recipe, but sometimes I get a recipe that intrigues the heck out of me.
Like this one. Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water.
Say what? I'll be honest. I've never heard of the stuff, but when a cool guy named Glenn emailed me asking if I've ever tried it, we got into an interesting conversation about it that got me desperately wanting to make some of my own.
Interestingly, Glenn is an Alaskan with a winter home in Maui, and his neighbor turned him onto the stuff, so I must thank both Glenn and his neighbor for introducing me to this wonderful condiment/hot sauce. That's right, I'm not exactly sure if I'd call it a condiment or a hot sauce. It seems a combination of both of these things, VERY MUCH like a watered down Pique, which is a Puertican condiment made primarily with vinegar and hot peppers. See my Puerto Rican Hot Sauce - Pique Recipe here.
Glenn gave me his basic recipe, which I've altered a little bit to my own tastes, though in my research, I've discovered there are many variations, as would be expected. At it's core, Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water is made from 8 ounces water, 2 ounces vinegar, rock sea salt and Hawaiian chili peppers, which are quite hot. It's fairly simple in that you combine the ingredients and let them sit until the liquid is properly infused with the peppers, which again is very much like Pique.
Variations include adding slices of garlic and/or ginger (which you can also smash to release the juices more), as well as a splash of soy sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce for added flavor. From there, the sky is the limit! I've even seen a fermented pepper version. As you use up the infused liquid, you can easily top it off with more water/vinegar to keep the bottle going.
Glenn says he sees the stuff in local kitchens and on food trucks, and he's seen locals sipping shots of the stuff. He likes to use it in rice dishes, for dipping steak, dashing over grilled fish or any sliced meats. For me, I love the flavor. It has quite a thin consistency, as would be expected with the water content, but go ahead and pour some into a small bowl for dipping to get a bit of heat and added flavor, or simple drizzle it over your finished meals.
I actually have a trip planned to Hawaii in the fairly near future, so I can't wait to try the many local versions! Pumped!
If you are unable to obtain Hawaiian chili peppers, use either Thai chilies or any number of hot red chili peppers, such as cayenne, birds eye, or even red serrano peppers. You have numerous options for a similar sauce.
Enjoy! If you make Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water at home, let me know your favorite version. I'd love to hear!
-- Mike H.
Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water - Recipe
- 8 ounces water
- 2 ounces white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Hawaiian rock sea salt (you can sub in any sea salt or kosher salt)
- Hawaiian chili peppers, sliced (add anywhere from 3-20, or as many as you can fit - you CAN sub in other spicy chili peppers)
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2-3 fresh ginger slices
- Splash of soy sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce, if desired
- Add the ingredients to a small pan and bring to a quick boil. Reduce the heat immediately and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, cool, then transfer to a sterilized bottle. Use as needed. The longer it sits, the more the peppers and other flavors will infuse the water/vinegar mixture.
This will keep in the refrigerator for about a year or so.