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)
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.
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.
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.
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