Listen, you won’t be reaching for Hawaiian chili pepper water as your next favorite big-bodied hot sauce. That’s not the point of this popular Hawaiian condiment. It’s simply water with chili pepper, a touch of vinegar, some ginger, a pinch of garlic, and a dash of salt.
So what’s the use of this beyond simple hot sauce? Hawaiian chili pepper water adds a little fire to nearly any dish, but it doesn’t overwhelmingly changing the food’s flavor. It’s a subtle taste that’s as perfect dashed on pork as it is mixed into rice or topping some fried chicken. That versatility is why it’s a mainstay condiment on many Hawaiian restaurant and dining tables. It often sits right next to the salt and pepper.
Can’t find Hawaiian chili peppers? You can substitute in any red chili, but pequin and Thai peppers may bring the most similar heat to Hawaiian chilies. Or, for a milder flavor, use red jalapeños or red serrano peppers. We don’t recommend using green peppers in this recipe. For one, the color looks much better with red chilies. But, more importantly, the flavor of green chilies is often too bright and bitter to work well with this use case.
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Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water
- Using a mortar and pestle, mash the chili peppers, garlic, and salt to release the flavors and incorporate the tastes.
- Transfer the pepper mash into an airtight sealable jar, then place to the side.
- In a saucepan over high heat, combine the white vinegar and water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, and allow the liquid to sit on the burner and slowly cool for approximately 10 minutes.
- Add the liquid to the pepper mash and seal. Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to meld.