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June 21, 2023

Vietnamese-style chile sauce isn’t as bold and fiery as the popular sriracha found at Vietnamese American restaurants. With the inclusion of a little tomato paste, it’s sweet, fruity, and friendly-hot, so you can use plenty when building these Char Siu Tofu Bao Sliders, or anything else that deserves a delicious kick. 

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Makes about 1 cup


garlic cloves, coarsely chopped


oz. Fresno chiles, jalapeños, or other medium-hot chiles, cut
into ½” pieces


Tbsp. tomato paste


Tbsp. (or more) agave nectar or mild honey


Tbsp. (or more) distilled white vinegar

tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more


tsp. xanthan gum (optional)


  1. Step 1

    Bring 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped, 4 oz. Fresno chiles, jalapeños, or other medium-hot chiles, cut into ½” pieces, 3 Tbsp. tomato paste, 2 Tbsp. agave nectar or mild honey, 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar, 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and ¾ cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat with the exhaust fan on (to deal with the volatile chile fumes that will soon be floating in the air). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chiles are softened and flavors have come together, about 4 minutes. Taste; if it’s too hot, add more agave nectar 1½ tsp. at a time. (The amount will depend on the spiciness of the chiles and your heat preference; the finished sauce will taste sweeter than it does during cooking, so don’t overdo it.) Continue to cook 4 minutes more. Remove from heat; let sit 5 minutes to allow flavors to concentrate.

    Step 2

    Transfer sauce to a blender and purée until very smooth. Sprinkle ¼ tsp. xanthan gum over if using (it will thicken the sauce slightly) and blend just to combine. Let sauce sit, uncovered, 10 minutes.

    Step 3

    Taste sauce; add more agave nectar, vinegar, salt, and/or some water (to dilute) if needed. Transfer to a small jar or airtight container; let cool before covering. 

    Do ahead: Sauce can be made 6 months ahead. Cover and chill.

The cover of the cookbook ever-green vietnamese by andrea nguyen

Recipes adapted from ‘Ever-Green Vietnamese: Super-Fresh Recipes, Starring Plants from Land and Sea,’ by Andrea Nguyen. Published April 25, 2023 by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of The Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Buy it at Amazon or Bookshop

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